This piece represented in the illustration above stands near the entrance of the exhibit and at the exit . The exhibit directs you to walk through a number of rooms before returning back to the original room where you can more easily view this piece. It’s a painted map by Qiu Zhijie titled “Map of the Theater of the World”. It lays out where the pieces in the exhibit live on re-created map of the world. With his beautifully inked and satirical map, Qie also criticizes China as well as other major global powers.  The map poked holes in my knowledge and understanding of the world as well. Within Qie’s representation of China, I saw a mountain peak labelled “Peak of Three Representatives” and didn’t understand why it was called that. I noticed a crossroads labelled “The Reform of Media” and didn’t know the context behind that either. It made me wonder if my parents would know more about the meaning behind these statements on the map.  I noticed a group of young Chinese-Americans gathered near the map and studying it fervently. It looked as if they were trying to locate a place on this map. I wondered if they were thinking the same thing - what’s the context behind all of this and what does my family know that I don’t? On a deeper level, it might even be a question of what is this place, and “where did we come from?”

What Modern Art Taught Me About My Family

A set of self-directed illustrations based on my experience of SFMOMA’s exhibit: “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World.” The illustrations were created to accompany my blog post titled “What Modern Art Taught Me About My Family”. You can read it here.

In my post, I discuss the ways in which young Chinese-Americans like myself struggle with our lack of information when it comes to our families’ history in China. Our families largely grew up in a period of heavy Communist control, censorship, and violence and much of the history has been censored. At the exhibit, I noticed the number of Chinese-Americans who were discovering the world that their parents grew up in for the first time. I wanted to document the experience of understanding our families from a lens not previously looked through and also illustrate my interpretations of a few of the pieces in the exhibit.

 This piece represented in the illustration above stands near the entrance of the exhibit and at the exit . The exhibit directs you to walk through a number of rooms before returning back to the original room where you can more easily view this piece. It’s a painted map by Qiu Zhijie titled “Map of the Theater of the World”. It lays out where the pieces in the exhibit live on re-created map of the world. With his beautifully inked and satirical map, Qie also criticizes China as well as other major global powers.  The map poked holes in my knowledge and understanding of the world as well. Within Qie’s representation of China, I saw a mountain peak labelled “Peak of Three Representatives” and didn’t understand why it was called that. I noticed a crossroads labelled “The Reform of Media” and didn’t know the context behind that either. It made me wonder if my parents would know more about the meaning behind these statements on the map.  I noticed a group of young Chinese-Americans gathered near the map and studying it fervently. It looked as if they were trying to locate a place on this map. I wondered if they were thinking the same thing - what’s the context behind all of this and what does my family know that I don’t? On a deeper level, it might even be a question of what is this place, and “where did we come from?”

This piece represented in the illustration above stands near the entrance of the exhibit and at the exit . The exhibit directs you to walk through a number of rooms before returning back to the original room where you can more easily view this piece. It’s a painted map by Qiu Zhijie titled “Map of the Theater of the World”. It lays out where the pieces in the exhibit live on re-created map of the world. With his beautifully inked and satirical map, Qie also criticizes China as well as other major global powers.

The map poked holes in my knowledge and understanding of the world as well. Within Qie’s representation of China, I saw a mountain peak labelled “Peak of Three Representatives” and didn’t understand why it was called that. I noticed a crossroads labelled “The Reform of Media” and didn’t know the context behind that either. It made me wonder if my parents would know more about the meaning behind these statements on the map.

I noticed a group of young Chinese-Americans gathered near the map and studying it fervently. It looked as if they were trying to locate a place on this map. I wondered if they were thinking the same thing - what’s the context behind all of this and what does my family know that I don’t? On a deeper level, it might even be a question of what is this place, and “where did we come from?”

 My illustration based on Zhang Peili’s “Water (Standard Version from the Cihai Dictionary)”

My illustration based on Zhang Peili’s “Water (Standard Version from the Cihai Dictionary)”

 My illustration of Chen Zhen’s “Precipitous Parturition”

My illustration of Chen Zhen’s “Precipitous Parturition”

 My illustration of Huang Yong Ping’s “Theater of the World and The Bridge” installation

My illustration of Huang Yong Ping’s “Theater of the World and The Bridge” installation