“Calypso II” 19″W x 24″H, gouache, candle smoke, sewn transparencies and fabric on paper, 2019

“Calypso II” 19″W x 24″H, gouache, candle smoke, sewn transparencies and fabric on paper, 2019

Holly Wong

Artist Statement I live and work in San Francisco, California and was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute where I graduated with a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in New Genres.  I create paintings and installations integrating non-traditional approaches with more traditional sewing techniques associated with the history of women.  Using various materials such as food cellophane, dichroic film, tulle, organza, thread, paint and candle smoke, I strive to reconnect in myself as well as in the external environment what has been fragmented.  Much of my work is constructed with ephemeral materials that are components which become a visual whole.  My work is a constant process of assembling, deconstructing and then making whole once again. 

Recent work has focused on describing the immediacy of needing to be in the present moment in order to avoid further environmental destruction.  Living on the West Coast, I have become deeply aware of the destruction of the lands, traditions and cultures of native peoples and how that has translated ultimately to a throwaway society that is leading to our collective destruction. I believe that the psychic disconnect in modern times has resulted in a tendency to treat the earth as if it was a disposable resource. Through the action of sewing, I build and construct and then by cutting and resewing, structures reemerge again.  I often use materials that are commonly thought of as disposable or lacking value; my journey as an artist is ultimately to reclaim and to restore value out of what was previously thought of as worthless. The sewing line becomes a type of river, tributary or blood line in my work that has geographical references as the installations stretch broadly across space to make physical reconnections. 

My water color paintings and collages are a parallel process which capture moments of those ephemeral states.  Working often within the context of memory and impermanence, I gather images, patterns and textures which I paint on paper and then burn with candle flame so that the images have a layer of smoke on the surface.  I also layer with collage elements such as lace made out of paper, netting or other types of semi-permeable materials.  Layering in this way, I build up the surface as images start to emerge through the materials.  In many ways, these smaller works on paper are a microcosm of my larger installations; all of these approaches are about the biology of thought processes.

In my work, I am trying to physically demonstrate a healing presence that provides a place of refuge for the viewer and ultimately translates towards understanding the need for treating the earth as a sacred refuge in addition to our own bodies.