It was the violent suppression of the democracy movement by the Chinese government in 1989 that turned me to political art. Two streams, the artistic impulse and the injustices I had been noticing from childhood, joined together then. Growing up, I felt my parents’ obvious preference for my younger brother, their only son. This attitude arose from their own Chinese Confucian upbringing. Finding common cause with other women, I realized that the pattern of devaluing girls and women crossed many cultures, which also provided material for an eventual exhibition on the topic.

With Hidden Geometry, I later returned to the subject of family relationships. That sequence combined old family photographs with John Ruskin’s diagrams on perspective to make visual episodes of our family history, from the power dynamics of our relations to times of reconciliation and healing.
Stoop Labor and Sweatshop, two series of woodblock prints, showed the grueling manual labor performed by refugees and immigrants. The 2005 events of Hurricane Katrina after the levees broke started me on a new inquiry. The failure of our government at all levels to address the storm damage made it into a far more serious human disaster and forced public evaluation of what our country stands for. Sociologist Kai Erikson wrote, It is crucial to get this story straight, so that we may learn from it and be ready for that stark inevitability, the next time.
For much of my art, I transform outrage. I cannot know or control how the artwork will be received, but I do not want the precipitating events to be forgotten. Pictures of destruction and degradation have unquestioned urgency along with their own aesthetics and fascination. Theirs is a tainted beauty, never consoling. Could I use those qualities to delay the release of meaning inherent in the image? To provoke contemplation? To affirm our common humanity in order to face the challenges ahead?
I began this recent work by creating fragmented landscapes of storm-wrought rubble, using materials made translucent to allow passage of light through the picture from behind as with stained glass windows. Backlighting combined with the usual, frontal illumination, gives the scene a temporal existence, suggesting the passage from day to night. My intention is to raise the idea of the endurance of global climate destruction; it is forever, in human terms.