On Beauty

I’ve never considered myself a late bloomer, but lately I’ve started to acknowledge that I am. As I’m learning to see and comprehend new techniques and ideas, I’m continually being humbled by what I still don’t know. I guess that’s what makes the process interesting. 

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My latest piece attempts to combine various elements of ideas I’ve been mulling over in my brain: the concept of Beauty and Image as a commodity, its falsity, and the punishment women give themselves and others while trying to attain it. The magazine articles I collaged into the background came from just ONE Glamour magazine–just one magazine gave me everything I needed in this piece, including articles like “Don’t get a nose job, get glasses,” or “What men think of your shoes,” and ads like, “Hope in a Jar.” 

It wasn’t surprising, but I was surprised—so much of what we grew up and still see just wants to sell us on the unattainable. It’s all there in the background, the white noise that we learn to tune out but still remains. Some women tell me that feminism is irrelevant now, but between the conversations around current events occurring in Steubenville, in India, and even the backlash against Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I think there is still much to be discussed. Feel free to disagree. 

 

 


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.”


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.