Hung Liu – Sanctuary
Dimensions: 80 x 72 x 2″
Medium: oil and gold leaf on canvas
Hung Liu Sanctuary will be featured in her career retrospective at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in 2021. The painting is inspired by a Dorothea Lange photograph from 1935, titled “Mexican Mother in California.” The Library of Congress documentation adds “Sometimes I tell my children that I would like to go to Mexico, but they tell me ‘We don’t want to go, we belong here.'” (Note on Mexican labor situation in repatriation.)
Liu painted her “Sanctuary” in 2019, one year before the 2020 presidential elections and during one of the most divisive times in American history. Migrants were traveling by foot all the way from Guatemala and other Central American countries, , through Mexico in order to cross the U.S. border at record rates. But unlike the former American Dream aspirations, this time Mexican immigrants were placed into fence-like cages and held there without acknowledgment of their human dignity. Hung Liu paints “Sanctuary” as a reminder that all human beings, regardless of race or status, should be given the grace of hope.