Composite Expressions: An Exhibition Exploring Heritage and Identity Issues

November 11, 1995 – January, 21, 1996
With Julia Nee Chu, Arlan Huang, Joanna L. Kao, Leon Sun, and Anna Wu Weakland

In art, the creative process often involves both conscious and subconscious manifestations. In simple interpretation, the subconscious level incorporates elements of one’s background and upbringing, plus the cultural milieu of the artist’s formative years. Physical environment exerts great influence in the availability of artists’ materials and formats of expression.

The conscious mind is exercised through the choice of subjects and themes as the artist is exposed to increased stimulation and expansive learning. These new experiences are synthesized with prior sensitivities to form hybrid expressions. This process of creative synthesis applies especially to artists
who undergo cultural transplantation – as is the case with this exhibition of five individuals who bridge the cultures of China and America. These artists, three of whom were born in China, are each confronted with concerns of their ethnic identity as well as issues of their cross-cultural artistic experience.

Their works are imbued with symbols, images and stories which hint at or recall their hybrid past.
Chinese-American artists often cannot become the torchbearers of Chinese traditional aesthetics; nor can they easily become the “American” artists who neglect their strong ethnic identity. Ideally, it is hoped that this group of individuals will gain much wider recognition with audiences in both Chinese
and American communities. This would be a just reward, for they have effectively and sensitively combined their cross-cultural experiences into a new organic artistic whole.