This is one of the 50 art pieces for Sanchez Art Center’s 11th Annual 50|50 Show opening August 30. Curated by Catharine Clark of @cclarkgallery, this show features 3200 works by 65 Bay Area artists who have created fifty 6”x6” panels in fifty days with themes of their own choosing.
Story behind this piece
I was 9, played with another girl on the stairs and twisted my ankle. Hold the pain for whole school day and finally headed home. The right ankle swollen as puff as a giant chicken drumstick. Luckily everyone is at home.
I showed my twisted ankle to my father and brother, then my father lifted me up in piggyback style and rushing out.
We arrived at Chinese medicine clinic, with the dumped cloth and dime lights on. The strong Chinese herb smell filled with the tiny clinic.
When the doctor exam my ankle, I didn't yell a word. He praised me how tough I am, that I hold on the pain without making a dramatic scene.
'Good little girl, you are brave and tough.' Doctor said.
Hong Kong in the 1980s was an era of prosperity. It represented the peak of economic development and creativity. With the population soaring to five million, Hong Kong's British colonial culture, popular entertainment and skyrocketing real estate prices, the city was awarded the title of one of the four Asian dragons in the world. Westerners were beginning to take notice of Hong Kong.
Being born in generation X, I was taught to believe and pursue a free and democratic will. I deeply felt the importance of free trade and a free market economy. I remember that my primary school music class sang songs such as: "For Freedom" and "Tomorrow Will Be Better.”
Childhood was bittersweet for me. I grew up in a broken home. My biological mother moved away when I was two years old and eventually she divorced my father. I was a shy girl and my face often turned red when people said hello. I also have an elder brother in the family. Our family included my grandma and father who were living together. Unfortunately they both suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. In my childhood, grandma went to the hospital for psychiatric treatment for half a year. In her absence, there wasn’t anyone to cook for us. My brother and I grew up eating cup of instant noodles, canned sardines and spam.
Due to gender favoritism, my father treated me very differently from my elder brother. When I was little, my father’s authoritative and overprotective behavior affected me very negatively. He didn’t allow me to play or to talk with other children, and as a result I didn’t have many good friends.
I spent a lot of time at home with grandma to watching TV and drawing pictures in order to escape from reality. I found inspiration in snack foods and animation, and when I was little, I thought working in commerical world would bring wealth.
Hong Kong was a British colony with global free trade relationships. I enjoyed snacks from three countries: China, Britain and Japan, as well as locally made snacks. I loved the colorful food packaging of these products and their humorous ads.
One of the most profound memories was of my brother and I going to the supermarket to buy cigarettes for my father. My brother was under 11 years old. A pack of cigarettes was only forty Hong Kong dollars, so we would also buy many different snacks for ourselves, such as potato chips, candies, chocolate, and squid. Once we used a total of 99 Hong Kong dollars from a hundred dollars. We got one Hong Kong dollar back.
My father was angry and asked us why we only came back with a dollar. My brother said the reason was extreme financial inflation! His clever answer made my frustrated father who wanted to lose his temper laugh out loud.
The massacre that took place at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989 became a turning point for my father's decision to send me and my brother to go abroad. When I was fifteen years old, my brother and I were forced to leave home and grandma. Brother and I immigrated to the United States to reconnect with our mother.
I want to share with you fifty of my most profound childhood memories and stories through snacks. I hope that you will enjoy these paintings, as much as I like to paint them.