“That looks so Andrew.”
“Looks very ‘you’, Andrew.”
“So Andrew, like oh my gosh”
I’ve been hearing people say this a lot recently. At first, I thought people just had nothing to say about my work, which is why they’d turn to using my name to describe it instead. However, I’ve started looked back at my more recent pieces, and found that they actually are indeed … very Andrew. I’ve since then, begun an investigation into what this ‘Andrew’ meant and how it came about.
A Strange Calmness
Listening to people’s opinions and thoughts on my work, the phrase ‘a strange calmness’ is probably the most fitting name to describe why something looks ‘Andrew’. When looking at a lot of my work, the feeling is mildly unnerving, yet, at the same time not disgusting, or disturbing. The viewer is meant to remain calm. There is a simplicity in focus that also helps to create that kind of tone as well. The art I create is easy to understand, and simple, but it softly calls for attention. Using this I can begin to look into how it came about.
Art is the essence of humanity translated into material form – at least that’s what I believe. Everything we make comes from what we are and who we are. I was raised in a Chinese family, in 21st century Canada, and two conflicting, and complementary forces formed my humanity.
One made me strange. One kept me calm.
Therefore, we can begin at the foundation of my humanity: my parents. My father is probably the calmest person I know. I’ve never seen him lose his head over anything, and he maintains his logical thought and calmness through everything. My mom is the opposite. There is a quirkiness about her, and has strong feelings towards people and issues. I feel as if they embodied the two extremes of Asian parents. I’d like to say that I’m an amalgamation of both, in terms of personality and vision. This is where the tone or atmosphere of my work stems from, I think… However I don’t think I can stop there.
I am strange. I am calm.
My work also tries to strike a balance between my traditional Chinese background, and a more liberal North American foreground. While looking at my past works, I’ve been seeing that they try to do this using subject matter as well as medium. We can compare my black and white photo manipulation work ‘Laying’, which has a stronger North American influence, with my woodblock cut relief print ‘Skin. Me.’, which speaks more to the traditions in Chinese culture. Through medium they show the different cultural influences in my work. For example the Photoshop usage and photographic techniques are more North American, in comparison to the more traditional relief prints with red and black ink.
However in terms of subject matter, I can’t seem to place them as easily within or even between cultures. I’m dealing with concepts of identity and humanity in my art, but at the same time I can’t overtly link them to specific cultural experiences I’ve had. I’m still trying to find a place between the two, and I cannot say that I know where it comes from at this point. It’s going to be a continual process of exploring culture and identity. It will be a journey, finding where my thoughts come from, but I will calmly accept this journey into the strangeness of my humanity and I hope to share what I find when I do.