August 19th, 2014
There are ups and downs in any type of work you do, and lately, it’s been pretty down. People often tell me I’m “living the dream,” and I’ll have to I agree– but I’ll admit: some days, painting is draining, exhausting, and downright painful. I literally need to force myself to sit my ass down to paint. Nothing can be created from not showing up, right?
But something happened lately that inspired, touched, and motivated me a few days ago. A dear, old friend emailed me after seeing images of my latest series: “Abstractions of Song,” a series of abstract paintings I created based on songs that resonated with me. She was particularly drawn to the piece, “I Wish You Love.” Having gone through a particularly difficult time in her life, she sent me this (which I got her permission to share):
it’s so funny, that song has been on a loop in my home and in my car… it’s on a rotation of 5 songs i listen to constantly — sometimes sad, sometimes crying but a lot of times just hopeful and reflective. i thought that song was my little secret i listened to and i was astonished to open my facebook and see it right there in your post….and not only that, see it accompanied by a beautiful piece of art that indescribably captures everything i feel when i hear it. it’s so weird. i know it’s a personal piece of work for yourself but it’s so funny how i can look at it — even on a computer screen, not even live! — and automatically feel like it was meant for me. but i guess that’s the beauty of great art, right?
While I can’t say I know what “great art” is, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for her sentiments. Knowing her story personally, it was clear to me that she understood everything I wanted to communicate in this painting. I also knew almost too intimately and painfully, how she has been feeling– because I’ve been there. Painting this series meant having to revisit some of my lonelier, introspective times. These paintings were also ambitious– I wanted to capture conflicting, complicated, elusive emotions and materialize them with only composition, color, marks, and paint. I wanted to work in the abstract, because sometimes, symbolism only flattens the depth of the emotions one feels.
I never paint with the intention of imposing my views, or even expect others to understand it fully. But, it is something I always silently hope to achieve. Hearing this from my old friend validated what I’ve been working toward: to reach others through my art, wordlessly, holistically, and to say things that now never need to be said. I am so grateful for being able to challenge myself through my work and be rewarded this way, it is a privilege I hope to never take for granted. Everything about this fills me with gratitude, thank you for being a part of it.
Music is very often a part of the highest and the lowest points of my day. Lyrics give me words when I don’t have my own, and music expresses emotions I sometimes don’t know I have. I suspect music inspires the same in others, which is why so many people find solace in the same songs, sharing the need to reinterpret and pay homage to songs of the past.
In my new series, I revisited songs that have been interpreted by various artists, songs I have discovered/rediscovered at various points in my life. Because so much of what I paint is representational, I wanted to challenge myself to simply paint in the abstract- completely devoid of symbolism. I wanted to test my ability to convey a certain sense of feeling in each, that can’t be expressed in lyrics or words–even by some of the greatest musicians in history. I also wanted to share the meaning they’ve created in their reinterpretations of the same song, and be a part of the tradition through the process of creation. These paintings are my dedication to my times of love, loss, obsession, and heartbreak. I hope it resonates with you.
This series was recently shown at the Asian American Women Artist Association’s show, “A PLACE OF HER OWN” at the SEED Gallery at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in the Presidio, San Francisco from Thursday, June 12 to Friday, July 25th, 2014. Thank you to all who made it to the show, I am forever grateful for your support.
Title: I Wish You Love
Materials: Oil, Graphite Powder, Watercolor and Clear Glitter on Canvas
Description: My visual interpretation of Rachael Yamagata’s rendition of, “I Wish You Love,” is a wide chasm of longing, touched with the earnestness of hope, leading to a glimmering horizon. This particular song has significance to me, as it carried me through some of my deepest heartaches. There are layers of warmth beneath the ice, and the only way to get to it is through the path toward the cracked ice above. To me, it is a song of heartbreak, loss, but overwhelming and encompassing love.
Play: “I Wish You Love,” Rachael Yamagata
Title: Lilac Wine
Materials: Oil, Graphite Powder, Watercolor and Enamel on Canvas
Description: Based on Jeff Buckley’s interpretation of “Lilac Wine,” I imagined the dynamic push and pull of syrupy wine legs against the shadows of a lonely, dark place. This piece represents an obsessive, clingy love—drowned in the blissful oblivion of intoxication.
Play: “Lilac Wine,” by Jeff Buckley
Materials: Oil, Watercolor, Graphite Powder
Description: “Landslide,” by Smashing Pumpkins is another remake of a classic song by Fleetwood Mac, and my interpretation of it represents a departure from what I’ve been known to create in the past. It’s a personal piece and homage to my familiar past: a long-standing love lost, an embracing of change, and a hope to rebuild.
Play: “Landslide,” by Smashing Pumpkins