Xiau-Fong Wee is a fantastic artist. She recently wrapped up a summer group show which was an exhibition showcasing a selective roster of varying mediums and styles found throughout the contemporary scene. As she emerges through the ranks of prestige through the art world, I had a chance to catch up with her and ask her a variety of questions. Read below for the full interview…
Contemporary artists are now freer to explore their individuality as well as retaining some form of ethnic identity since their art has emerged onto the global market. Do you recall your defining moment as an artist?
XFW: Actually I think I try live each day as if it was the defining moment of me being an artist! I try to strive for mastery but hope to always just come short of achieving it [laughs]!
I was born and raised in California so I am ABC (American Born Chinese). I don’t try to convey any sort of ethnic identity in my art, but interestingly enough, viewers get an Asian vibe from my work! I don’t think there was a time or moment when I realized that I am an artist, or that this defined me. I have always loved being creative and especially so in the visual arts. However, finding a unique voice in painting and drawing came gradually, without force and with lots of practice and exploration. And I am lucky to find not one, but three different voices.
One trick you use in your art is taping off section to produce guidelines for your strokes. Any other tips or tricks you implement in your art?
- Rubbing alcohol removes dried acrylic paint. Workable fixative protects dried acrylic paint. You can work in layers this way, similar to Photoshop.
This year you have been heavily involved in group shows that also benefit charities and raise awareness. How has the California art scene helped your creativity and networking abilities?
XFW: The bay area has a great art community. There are many galleries, shows, and talented people! Attending as well as participating in shows is a good way to meet people, wether they be other artists, curators, or collectors. I don’t know how great I am at networking though, when I am at an art opening, I just talk about random stuff that has nothing to do with anything ha ha!
Could you talk a bit about your Summer Group Show, and how the concept of animals with firearms came about?
XFW: The Summer Group Show featured nine emerging artists and it is held at Spoke Art Gallery (http://spoke-art.com/). There is not a main theme to the show so if you like variety this is the show to check out! There are oil paintings, acrylic paintings, mixed media, and drawings. I am very proud to be hanging my work alongside the group of amazing artist of the Summer Group Show!
And about the animals with guns and glasses…..—->
Having cute animals with deadly force in their hands definitely makes for an interesting concept. Is there a deeper symbology for this work, or are you just having fun with it?
XFW: Both; I have fun with it, but Crinkle is a warning for all! Looks can be deceiving so beware! It is the cute and fluffy that will turn against you… things are not always as they seem. I have had various random sketches laying around and one day I found an opportunity to take one of these sketches and turn it into a finished, fully rendered drawing for a class assignment. Upon completion, I did not think it was that great of an idea and gave my first armed soldier away to a relative who asked about it. Turns out it was more popular than I thought it would be. So, I went ahead and started to recruit more fighters!
You describe yourself as having three styles of art. Have you tried to expand to four? Are you just comfortable with three or do you feel that is all you can balance?
XFW: Three is a good number. Having two styles of art makes it seem like I am indecisive. Having four styles of art makes it seem like I am disorganized and all over the place. Sometimes I wish I can pick up and show a few more styles ( I love screen-printing, making toys ,and books), but there are only 24 hours a day. So yes I am comfortable with three styles and I feel that is all I can balance. When I clone myself I would like to expand to eight bodies of work, showcasing the extra five on a separate website. It will be www.theotherxiaufong.com. Yessss…. Soon!
Futhermore, this transcends into having three different artists in one body. Are you able to work on multiple pieces at once to accomodate each entity?
XFW: I am always switching back and forth. The Concept version of me is complaining that I don’t give her enough attention though. It’s not that I love her less than Concrete or Crinkle, for it depends on demand (shows, commissions, events). But she is having a blast for the next couple months in preparation for a show in October, at 111 Minna Gallery.
Your career seems to be deadline driven. How are you able to participate in so many shows and galleries without feeling rushed or exhausted?
XFW: [Laughs] Who said I don’t feel rushed or exhausted? Truth is, I am part robot. I don’t need to eat or sit down all day and go into my ‘sleep mode’ for six out of the twenty-four hour human day cycle. I am working on upgrading my system so that I can still run efficiently on half the time of my current sleep mode. Eventually I will eliminate the trivial need to consume fluids that interrupt my routine.
Lastly, do you have any general advice for an artist trying to expand their exposure?
XFW: Just keep on artsy-fartsying! The more you do it, the more you improve or evolve and the more people will take notice. Have fun with it!
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