Hung Liu – South – Gold commission for Amy
Dimensions: 20.5 x 20.5″
Media: mixed media on panel
This image is from a larger and more populated photograph by American Dustbowl-era FSA photographer, Dorothea Lange. This young girl is sitting on a porch with her family around her, in Lange’s photograph. She has a daydream like look in her eyes, and I feel she is safe and secure with the support system she has around her. This brings to mind the importance to us a humans to offer and expect this type of support we deserve from each other. The dandelion represents the ephemeral nature of life, with our experience of transformation from bud (represented by the green buds on the viewer’s right side), to the about to expire dandelion bloom shown on the viewer’s left. Our time on earth is brief, and while we are here, we should be the best members of our human family we can be.
Hung Liu, working with master printer David Salgado, developed a unique method of creating her mixed media works in which she places layers of resin, paint, and metal leaf on panel. This process creates the impression of great depth in her works, as well as a sheen reminiscent of Chinese porcelain. The inspiration for this technique came from her public art installation at the Oakland Airport, titled “Going Away, Coming Home,” where she had the opportunity to paint on glass. She loved the way the sunlight emanated through the translucent layers of paint. This led her to seek the same luminescence in other of her works. These mixed media resin works could be described as illuminated paintings, for multiple reasons. One reason is the fact that these mixed media resin works begin with metal leaf (often gold) on panel, in the same the manner as a Russian icon would be painted. The gold represents the sanctity of the subject; a covering of the natural world (represented by the wooden panel’s surface) with the sacred and pure. Another reason these works can be regarded as “illuminated” is the obvious implication of light emanating from within them as light bounces off the base layer of metal leaf and reflects back through the layers of paint.
Hung Liu’s mixed media resin works are included in numerous important museums throughout the world; among them the San Jose Museum of Art and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which boasts the largest collection of these works and is curating a comprehensive exhibition and book documenting them. Hung Liu is honored that one of these works was included in the major exhibition “Gold” featuring important artworks throughout the history of art that have included gold leaf, at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria.
-Tonya Turner Carroll