Social Practice Art as a Necessary Product of a Global Means to Connect

 

In the United States, it appears though social practice art is no longer fashionable, and issues like identity and feminism have fallen out of favor. Despite this, social engagement in the United States is more important than ever, as our government systems continue to erode and our country struggles to understand our role in the world economy. Social practice and representational art that communicates and connects to a view is harder to measure than reducing Art to a particular style or a personal brand. However, if you listen carefully to the voice of emerging artists, the global tide is beginning to change. Social practice art is making a comeback.

For seven years before becoming an artist, I worked in the tech industry. While the work was not inherently creative, I learned to collaborate and generate ideas, to implement projects globally, and work in an environment of “organized chaos.” Like the Internet, the tech industry is open and generative. People are no longer confined by their location, and are free to collaborate and execute ideas on a global level. Most of us were frustrated with bureaucracy and the status quo, but we were no longer satisfied with voicing our concerns. We were determined to use our resources, build stuff, and fix it.

I plan to bring this attitude to the Art world, because I believe we need fewer restrictions and voices, and more hands to create change. I am discouraged by the status of social Art in the United States, but I am no longer satisfied with merely complaining about it. I am determined to not simply be a voice, but to be the hands. One way I believe I can be a part of the movement to mold and shape the status of Art, is to start by bringing back social relevance, because one important way Art derives meaning is through its connection with people.

In fact, contrary to what it may seem in the mainstream, I believe we’re on the cusp of a global, post-feminist movement. This is evidenced by growing list of successful international female artists such as Hung Liu, Wangechi Mutu, and Lee Jinjiu rising into the art scene and demanding global attention. In their own way, each of these women were able to rebel against their own pressures imposed on them, build upon the work done by generations of women before them, and create their own identity.

I am inspired by these women, and the fact that women across the world are finally being seen as individuals, not just a faceless, mass movement. I am excited to be join this movement because we now have the motivation and the means through technology, to connect with women across the world. I refuse to believe that Feminism was a passing fad because it is far too important to be disregarded. I believe we owe it to the generations of ordinary women who have paved the way, simply by existing, by suffering, and letting their brave voices be recorded and heard. These women put the wheels in motion, and it is now our duty to listen to those voices from the past, use technology to connect and collaborate globally, and finally, use our hands to create.

–October 10th, 2013

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Too Big to Jail

Since http://cindyshih.posterous.com/ is shutting down for good at the end of April, I guess I should start posting everything here. Not sure why I didn’t before, but so it goes…

Cool Story. So, I was feeling a bit under the weather on Monday when I finished up my latest illustration piece on an article from The Nation titled, “Why Don’t White Collar Criminals Get Equal Time?” By William Greider.  When I don’t feel quite finished yet, I sometimes post to Instagram first- which led to THE MOST AMAZING THING: Lil Wayne the Rapper liking my post!!

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Honestly, I think the whole thing is quite hilarious- considering it’s probably one of his many publicists managing his instagram account, but just in case- I told him to contact me if he ever wanted me to do an album cover for him. The offer still stands, Lil Wayne! (E-M-A-I-L-M-E)

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But here’s the finished product, which I added to a mock-up of the layout of the article, just to make it look all professional-like. The piece is supposed to be a bit vague but interesting enough to make someone want to read the otherwise boring article. I purposefully chose green on an off-white background to imitate the look and feel of money, and used imagery from the dollar bill along with the invisible hands of Capitalism framing and protecting those within it. The text reads in Latin, “Quoque Magnus Ad Carcerem” a translation of “Too Big To Jail.”


Guys! I had FOUR shows in October!

Yeah, wow…I totally killed it in October.  I wrote this big long blog post about how awesome it was, how much of a learning experience it was, and how absolutely exhausting it was, but WordPress decided to erase it. Maybe I should put more naked people in it next time.  🙂

Anyway, here were the shows (in no particular order):

  • “A Time to Reflect,” 33 Gough Gallery. Exhibition Dates: October 9th to November 27th, 2012
  • “From the Darkness Creeps,” Big Umbrella Studios. Opening: October 12th, 2012
  • “Provocations,” SF Raw at 1015 Folsom. Opening: October 25th, 2012
  • Student Exhibition at Fort Mason Building B, October 30th to November 14th, 2012

Thanks to everyone who made it out to see my work. I am so, so, incredibly grateful to have such amazing, supportive friends here with me throughout this crazy process. I just hope that I can continue to build on these small successes and just keep getting better.

Here are some photos from my shows this month:

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I was a featured artist at SF Raw, “Provocations,” October 25th, 2012. That show was a blast! Check out my photos from the SF Raw “Provocations” Facebook Album. 

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Solo Art Show. 33 Gough Art Gallery, “A Time to Reflect” October 9th – November 27th, 2012

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Group Show. “From the Darkness Creeps,” at Big Umbrella Studios. Opening Reception October 12th, 2012

Here’s a write-up they did for me!

Student Exhibit, Fort Mason Building B. (My piece is on the bottom left)

Project: Post Art All Over San Francisco = Complete. 


I’m Getting Better At This Artist Thing.

Hey Friendly Friends, I haven’t said nuthin’ on this chat lately because I’ve been busy with making stuff. It’s part of the pursuit to getting my personal MFA. So if anyone asks me where I got my Art Degree, I can probably just point to this URL.

Anyway. I’ve been thinking some more on the topic of “Fine Art and it’s Relevancy to the Real World,” and I still have a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to understanding this crazy industry. In spirit of not writing an entire novel about this and relating to my audience, here are a few things I’ve discovered in my short period of “being an artist” in bullet points:

  • People like Artists, and they like Art, but they don’t know what to do with it. Like, Dude…Art? “Is there an App for that?”
  • Technology represents an unsurmountable obstacle to most artists, and it’s often represented as a magic bullet (especially in the Bay Area) but it’s really more of a tool to get from point A to B
  • Capitalism = Trade, Trade = Rewards Technicians (Not lofty academics)
  • Fine Art is perceived to have gone the way of lofty academics. There’s “chicken and egg” situation here: Artists revert to framing their work in a lofty, academic way because they often can’t find an application for it in society that admittedly hasn’t really found a use for it.
  • As Art relates to Money: Value is dictated by expertise in our society. “Expertise in Art” is subjective and undefined.

A friend shared this article with me from WSJ this morning, which touches on a few points I’ve made above in further detail. (Thanks, Kevin Palmer!) This quote in the article struck me specifically:

“Thus we live in a strange and contradictory culture, where the most talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges possible.”

I find this to be true, during my time at Google, as well as now in the Art world… that what others perceive as “entitlement” in our generation might really be an actual awareness of how archaic and irrelevant our education has become in the current economic system. I mean, I’ve worked with 22-year olds who speak four languages fluently, created non-profits across the world, *and* was an internationally re-known chess player whose only real ‘value’ in our society is approving online ads and answering calls for the world’s most successful tech company.

This certainly opens up another can of worms, and perhaps speaks to an age-old problem that goes beyond our generation, or even our society– but in Art, I feel that the disconnect is even more profound. Going back to my bullet points above, I think there are two points that provide some hope to the future of Fine Art:

  • Capitalism = Trade, Trade = Rewards Technicians
  • Value is dictated by expertise in our society. “Expertise in Art” is subjective and undefined

Here’s where I want to clarify that this is not a knock on Capitalism. I, for one, enjoy the benefits of capitalism. It certainly has its problems, but I’m pretty sure as a young, minority woman, I am doing much better here, than I would be in another country.

In any case, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers to this quite yet. But I’m happy to have typed this all out and looked at it, so that I can remind myself what my goals are in my pursuit to “becoming a real artist,” and what it means for me. What it means for me is that I will be:

  1. Getting better at my Craft: That means, taking as many relevant classes and learning as many skills/materials/tools/techniques as humanly possible.
  2. Defining what Art is for me, and how it provides Value to others

Oh, and if you’re free this Friday, October 12th, please come over to Big Umbrella Studios in San Francisco (Divisadero and McAllister) for the “From the Darkness Creeps” show.

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My work will also be featured in “Provocations” by RAWArtists.org on Thursday, October 25th. http://www.rawartists.org/sanfrancisco/provocations This show should be a ton of fun… it’s at 1015 Folsom, and there will a fashion show, aerial and burlesque dancers, a bar, DJs, etc. For all my Facebook peeps, here’s the FB invite.

My work will also be up at 33 Gough from October 9th (tomorrow) to November 27th.  It will also likely be at the College Gallery at City College on the Ocean Campus, from October 22nd to November 5th.

Sorry for the shameless plugs, but I figured if you read this far you’re somewhat invested. Thanks for being awesome. Time to go back to the studio and get BUSY.


If I had a dollar for every Still Life I’ve painted…

I would probably be making more money Painting. 🙂

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It’s been awhile since I’ve bust out the oils, so I wasn’t sure if I should start from the beginning, or stay in an intermediate class. In hindsight, I’m glad I’m in the intermediate class now, because the beginning class has already painted an orange, two green apples, and is graduating to painting a mug on a white background. I think I’d poke my eyes out with a palette knife if I had to do that again, so instead… I painted my ode to a garlic. It’s a color study, as well as a warm-up to oils. I’m excited to start working with oils again.


Painting Bugs

8.27.12 – In a quiet mood today, so I’m painting bugs with some animal hair tied to a bamboo stick. It’s the little things, really.

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Walk with me, Suzy Lee
through the park and by the tree
we will rest upon the ground
and look at all the bugs we found
then safely walk to school
without a sound…

“We Are Going To Be Friends,” The White Stripes


My First Ikebana Arrangement

Lately, I’ve been kind of obsessed with Neo-Nihonga paintings and Ikebana flower arrangements. Now, I’ve never considered myself much of a Nihongophile, but there’s something about the poetic simplicity, the clean lines, and the focus on Nature that I’m really feeling. I find that even when I try to experiment with different styles and techniques in my paintings, I always seem to find my way back to the simple, poetic, and natural. Less is more, when you have a great balance of symmetry, composition, and color.

In addition to tons of resources online, I’ve been reading Keiko’s Ikebana, A Contemporary Approach to the Traditional Japanese Art of Flower Arranging, by Keiko Kubo. For those of you who know me well, you know that I love gardening, I love flowers, and I absolutely need fresh plants and flowers in the house. I’m also have interests that are relevant to old, retired women. I’ll own that. There’s just something about living with living things in the house to make you feel centered and happy. So, Ikebana is totally the next step in my obsession with having beautiful things in my house.

I present to you, my first attempt at Ikebana:

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I took a few photos with this with my camera, but Carlos stepped in and took a picture that kind of put mine to shame, so here it is on his Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cloalpz/7749939846/sizes/l/in/photostream/ It’s now a collaborative art project!  The next step is to practice my japanese brush techniques using this Ikebana still life. I’ll be working on this in the meantime. Until then…