Collective landscapes (2021)

Combining the imagined places of traditional Chinese jinbi shanshui (gold-green-blue landscape) paintings and the rebuses (visual puns) sometimes found in traditional Chinese animal/bird paintings, this scroll slides off the wall into present space, with mountains and fog appearing to have undergone an orthogonal shift to topography and materializing as hand embroidery. 

The clusters of quail have an exaggerated scale and are made from roasted watermelon seeds, a popular Chinese snack that for me recalls many childhood hours just sitting at the kitchen table chatting with family and friends — a sense of communality.

Quail can stand for anger/courage based on their fighting behavior, but because the Mandarin word for “quail” sounds like the word “peace”, they can also symbolize peace and safety. Similarly, numbers in Chinese take on meaning based on their sound, with “four”sounding like “dead”, “five” sounding like “no/without”, and “nine” sounding like “lasting/enduring”. Thus depending on whether the quail are viewed as smaller clusters of four and five facing one another (in rapprochement or aggression?) or as the overall complement of nine, there is a constant shifting between possibilities.

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