Good Morning America!
Dimensions: 41 x 41″
Media: mixed media on panel
Two children gaze out almost helplessly in Hung Liu’s “Good Morning America!” with their heads propped up on their palms. Although the boy expresses a clearer sense of confusion or uncertainty, the girl, on the other hand, is much more ambiguous. Whether she exudes a sense of despair, fear, or confidence, it is unclear. Nevertheless, the background behind both youths is undeniably imaginative and playful. With bright, almost unnatural cotton candy colors and speckled dots, the fluffy cloud and speckled sky captures childhood fantasies. Thus, Liu’s manipulation of the background of the image hints that the children are able to transform whatever circumstances lie before them through the power of their imaginations.
Liu first discovered the Dorothea Lange photographic archive in 2015. She immediately became fascinated by the struggles of the migrants in Lange’s Dust Bowl Era photographs. Liu is empathetic because like them, Hung Liu herself was forced to leave her home during the Cultural Revolution of her childhood in China. And ironically, like Dorothea Lange, Hung Liu used a camera (in Liu’s case a smuggled one) to document the struggles of the people she encountered during that time. This painting shows Liu’s fascination with the way we care for one another, even when we can barely care for ourselves. Liu explores the sensitivity of children in her current body of work titled “Catcher in the Rays.” Inspired by “Catcher in the Rye,” in which Catcher is the child who tries desperately to keep civilization from falling into an abyss, Liu paints children as resilient guides to show humanity a positive way forward.
By Sally Sasz, Morehead-Cain Scholar, Art History/English student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill