Painting is a form of physical journaling. For Gina, her work bears witness to her story of being Chinese in America. Born in Taiwan, she arrived in the United States at age seven. She grew up in New Jersey then migrated west to attend Rice University in Houston Texas, where she earned a BA in Art & Art History as well as a Bachelor of Architecture degree. After college, she settled in southern California where she currently lives and works.
Gina’s professional career started in architecture. Soon thereafter, she became fully ensconced in the themed entertainment industry, running and managing theme park projects, here and abroad. However, her love for art and architecture never left her. She’s influenced by and admires American painter Neil Nagy, 20th century Chinese artist Zhang Daqian and artist James Turrell’s works on light and space.
Her studio practice is a direct counterbalance to her work in managing projects where she can rely more upon instinct and the physicality of materials and less on strategic planning and verbal negotiations. She enters the solitariness of the studio to unearth the truths of her identity through visual explorations. Like Gina herself, her work is a blend of east and west, with expressionistic, often calligraphic brushstrokes meeting pure abstraction.
“With every passing year in the United States, I become less Chinese without becoming any more American,” an architecture professor said to me over 20 years ago as we were discussing being Chinese American. Those words resonated and stayed with me. This condition of living ‘in the gap’, a foot in each world, is prevalent in those of us who immigrated to the US.
As a Chinese-American, I draw upon the experiences, traditions and values of two distinct cultures. I see myself as unique yet universal, for we are all outsiders or marginalized figures in one context or another. Being bicultural and bilingual means, at times, having dual points of view, other times, it’s belonging to neither world. My explorations are about the combining and layering of these two worlds to create works that speak of the synchronistic oppositions and the state of being ‘in between’.
I am intrigued by abstracted figures, which become figurative landscapes that become anthropomorphic environments. The figure defines the ground just as the ground defines the figure, and I see my Chinese-ness and my American-ness in the same way. One defines the other, and the two are inseparable in comprising who I am, as a person and as an artist.
I begin a painting with a self-given constraint such as a background, a stroke of color, an element of collage and a limited palette, which though constraining, inversely, allows abandonment in exploration. This elicits a freedom from preconception as well as informs the next mark or gesture.
Experimentation is a major function of my working process so I use a variety of substrates such as paper, canvas and wood panels. Similarly, I use acrylics, inks, charcoal, collage and gesso, singularly or in combination, to see the dialogue the mediums create. East and west are evident in choice of materials: ink conjures the calligraphic marks of Chinese brush painting, while acrylic paint and collage techniques are a western practice.
Pasadena Art Show, Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena, CA
Water Works II: International Juried Show, Porch Gallery, Ojai, CA
North County Society of Fine Arts Annual Open 2D Art Show, Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Poway, CA
Artist Alliance – Oceanside Museum of Art at Herbert B. Turner Galleries, Del Mar, CA
Through My Eyes – How I See It, Las Laguna Gallery, Laguna CA
1st Omnis International, Minan Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Undressed, Linus Galleries Online Exhibition