Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author Department/Program

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type

Thesis

Abstract

The group of work, Rising Water, Floating Islands is inspired by traditional Chinese scroll landscape paintings. Such landscape paintings combine meticulous technique, compositional complexity, and tension between representation and abstraction to reveal an alternative universe that waits discovery amid our mundane existence. In “Rising Water, Floating Islands,” I explore the political and social ramifications of the ongoing cultural conflict between traditional and emergent contemporary values. By combining traditional Chinese elements and techniques with my own markings and gestural adaptation in my painting, I give the audience the opportunity to contemplate the implications of our present digital condition through traditional esthetic forms. I value the power of traditional Chinese esthetics to reveal philosophical dispositions, and I incorporate this perspective through the mark-making system that I created, which brings references to contemporary technologies and social systems into emotional assimilations with the painting as an alternative way of being in the world.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Thesis Advisor

Meghan Kirkwood

Studio/Primary Advisor

Richard Krueger

Studio/Primary Advisor

Jamie Adams

Studio/Primary Advisor

Cheryl Wassenaar

Committee Member

Buzz Spector

Committee Member

Denise Ward-Brown

Artist's Statement

The work Rising Water, Floating Islands. The group of work includes four paintings, made by ink on Xuan paper, size 12 x 5 feet each. They are inspired by traditional Chinese landscape art. I wish the concept of tradition could be continuously transmitted over time. I studied artists from ancient times, seeing how they used brushstrokes to depict trees and rocks. Observing the work from a further distance, audiences see the floating mountains and clouds turn to rain and rise into a smoky haze. But by walking close enough, the viewer can find meticulous depictions of flowers, trees, and tiny square.

Such landscape paintings combine meticulous technique, compositional complexity, and tension between representation and abstraction, to reveal an alternative universe that waits discovery of our existence. In the work, I explore the political and social ramifications of the ongoing cultural conflict, between traditional and emergent present values.

Today’s digital environment includes not only real landscapes but also landscapes made by data. If we imagine these media constructions as the new mountains in our era, the data stream and signals become the mist and cloud. The development of technologies has changed our living environment, and our way of viewing the landscape—it is still there, but people use a different technique to see and experience it. So, What if we used a traditional way to observe our landscape now? What can we see?

These questions led me to use the traditional Chinese landscape, as a language to explore the imaginary environment that we are living in now. The works present a completely different scheme of traditional philosophy both in terms of data network and representation. I want to take note of our present environment, to discuss the beauty in the changing environment and everyday things.

By combining traditional elements and techniques with my own adaptation, I give the audience the opportunity to contemplate the implications, of our present digital condition, through traditional esthetic forms. I value the power of traditional Chinese esthetics, to reveal philosophical dispositions. Also, I use my own mark-making system, which brings references to contemporary technologies, and social systems into emotional assimilations with the painting as an alternative way of being in the world.

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