Hung Liu – Migrant Child: with Bunny – Gold
Dimensions: 32 x 31″ paper / 26 x 26″ plate
Medium: archival pigment print with gold leaf
Hung Liu’s “Migrant Child: with Bunny” depicts a young boy cradling a small, white bunny to his chest. The light tones of the boy’s hair, face, and shirt suggest a sense of pure, childhood innocence. Not to mention, Liu’s use of gold leaf throughout the background of the work frames the boy in an almost angelic manner, creating a glowing halo around the figure. The benign innocence of the scene is furthered by the boy’s countenance; he gazes out, beyond the frame quietly and contently. In this print, Liu captures an intimate moment shared between child and animal. The work suggests that even in the face of new and unknown horizons, humans still possess the capacity to care for other beings with empathy and compassion.
Hung 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