Reflect + Present
Being an artist makes me passionate, and being a designer makes me proud.
My journey to the arts started when I was a child, stealing my mother’s lipstick and high heels in my search for feminine beauty. I stood apart from everyone else in my stubborn insistence that beauty be a part of everything I did; therefore, it seemed natural to explore a hobby that allowed me to learn more about beauty — fine arts.
Because Chinese schools place a prominent focus on STEM education and don’t always provide artistic training, I attended art studios outside of school. From the simplest sketches to more complex paintings, I spent Friday nights at the art studio learning the basics. As I got older, I began to notice the beauty of art in everyday design, from posters and flyers to advertisements and objects. Instead of being content to put on my mom’s lipstick, I began to take as much interest in how it was packaged. I was very fortunate to come to the United States for my last two years of high school. During that time, I took International Baccalaureate (IB) art classes and had the opportunity to exhibit my art, which allowed me to create for others as well as myself. I sought out like-minded people and more access to an art scene for college, which motivated me to attend Loyola University Chicago to further develop my creative voice.
While studying Said and Orientalism, I discovered that masters such as Ingres, Delacroix, and Gauguin have painted overly romanticized and sensual depictions of Asian women. Although the stereotypical portrayals are absurd, the aesthetic is overwhelmingly beautiful. This conflict pushed me to portray exotic beauty in a positive light as more femme fatale and less passive and oppressed; therefore, I decided to subvert the idealized tiger lady portrayed in western films — yellow skin, black shiny hair, red lipstick — by adding images of mystery and dominance. I wanted to make her a symbol of strength. My dual heritage also inspires me to create artwork that romanticizes stereotypical Eastern art qualities and combines them with Western retro glam and a touch of tackiness. For example, my project “It Started from A Lamp: How I Got into Camp” from my first year of MFA at BU was a representation of the notion of kitsch and Camp in combination of my cultural roots.
I was able to indulge myself into illustrations and my passion for colors during my first year of MFA here at Boston. This studio project “Color Story: Purple” was one of my favourites. Purple is a color of mystery, femininity, and sensuality. I was intrigued by the power of purple and its association with female sexuality. I started to think of the power of the female sex and why it is stigmatized in our society. I want women to feel comfortable talking about sex, which is especially important when it comes to sexual consent and sex education.
My app consists of a color scale of purple to showcase one’s comfort level when it comes to sexual preferences. As the shade gets deeper, each question that comes with the shade gets more intimate and serious. Two people can both select their comfort levels, and according to the shades they have picked, they would each have 4 questions to share. This question-answering process helps them get to know each other, and open up a conversation between in a romantic situation. This app serves as an educational narrative for young people, to teach them to be respectful and be better listeners. This app also serves as a conversation-starter to break the awkward silence, and the uncomfortbale question of “are we having sex tonight?”
I used an 80's video game aesthetic to make people feel as if they are in a gaming space, where they can relax and have fun.The aesthetics of my app design adhere to my intention and objective: to make people feel comfortable talking about sex, to de-stigmatize female sexuality, and to give sex a new language.
I was able to learn more from awesome professors on typography, which opened a lot of new design ideas and coversations.
My inspiration comes from all aspect of life and art, from David Bowie to the old YSL opium perfume advertisement, those are the things that make me a complex designer with various aesthetics.
I want to continue forging this artistic identity, especially in fashion or beauty design, and use my skills to make everyday products both beautiful and functional. Moreover, I want to dig deeper into the world of feminine beauty and the aesthetic of the combined East and West.
My supportive cohort and professors have inspired me to be a multidisciplinary designer at Boston University, where I have and will further challenge myself and develop my artistic vision.