Hung Liu – Migrant Child: with Puppy – Gold
Dimensions: 32 x 31″ paper / 26 x 26″ plate
Medium: archival pigment print with gold leaf
Hung Liu’s “Migrant Child: with Puppy” depicts a young girl cradling a small, white puppy to her chest. She gazes out at the landscape before her, squinting into the sun with both arms curling around the animal in a protective and endearing manner. Liu emphasizes the brightness of the scene with the gold leaf background, creating the sense of a luminous sunset over the dry, flat landscape. Despite the detail incorporated into the background of the work, the primary focal point is the girl herself. In this print, Liu captures an intimate moment shared between child and animal. The tones are altogether soft, with bright yellows and warm peach hues, which bring an endearing feeling to the scene. The work suggests that even in the face of new 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