Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Memorial Art Gallery "Art Reflected 1913-2013"

What started as an invitation to participate in Art Reflected 1913-2013, a centennial exhibition opening February 10th at the Memorial Art Gallery, has turned into a personal historical journey for award winning Rochester glass artist Nancy Gong. The objective of the exhibition for forty regional artists is to create new art inspired by a selection of art in the gallery’s permanent collection. It’s part of a fundraiser for the gallery’s Centennial Celebration.
Drawn to a story about Native American women’s experiences, Gong chose the contemporary work of Juane Quick-To-See Smith’s Famous Names.
Through a new (to the US) laminating process originated in Germany, the artist takes the lead in developing a dimensionally intriguing vocabulary in art glass. It combines old and new techniques weaving six layered surfaces of painted and etched photographic images and textures into one piece.
Gong, a first generation American born Chinese, traces the history of the 1880 Chinese Exclusion Act, its quotas and its repeals up through a recent apology in 2011 from the U.S. Congress for the discriminatory immigration law aimed at a specific ethnic group.
 War Bride, designed by Nancy Gong, is inspired by the artist’s mother. It is an interactive design that comes alive with light as the viewer moves around. The design celebrates the strength, courage, forward thinking and experiences of a modern woman from 1925 through the 1980’s by tracing a War Bride’s life.

Searches of ship manifests, consulate records, service records, in depth conversations with her father, a new connection to an uncle never met, photos from her sister’s travels, weeks of internet research blended with the artist’s personal connection to the culture helped pieced together facets of the war brides life. The glass artist has collected many stories along the way to generate a vivid picture of her experiences. The artist claimed “There were so many detailed questions. The curiosity was like that of a child.” The art unveils mysterious colors and multiple layers of images carefully sorted out to capture a sense of time. Meanwhile, informing aspects of the brides life in the east, a young armed forces member and his war bride being carried in a sedan chair to the groom’s village, a wedding in a small village, life in the villages, rice fields and the progression of the journey to the Golden Mountain - the US are revealed. Gong hopes the art will help to bring an awareness of the War Brides’ time in history as the beginning of a greater presence and beginning of Chinese and other Asian families and their experiences to people of all walks of life, of multiple generations.