“A mythical quality imbues a moody (canvas)… a flat, Matisse-like design bare of detail, …a hint of geometry.”
Holly Johnson, The Sacramento Union
I was born into a household with three women who had bound feet: Great Grandmother, Grandmother and Sixth Great Aunt. We lived together in an old house in Shanghai with a garret where all the children slept. One of my earliest memories was reaching into the secret jar from which all sweetness flowed, to extract my very own bar of sticky crumbly brown sugar. Another was my stepping onto the sill of an open window, a cool wind on my face; I reached toward the patch of blue-grey sky, willing to fly. Voices behind me screamed, “No! Stop! Do not move!”
Those words became the mantra for most of my upbringing. They were to prevent me from being struck by whatever misfortune might be waiting in ambush. In order to not get into trouble, I became adept at being still, and learned to thrive in stealth and silence. Imagination was my window for escape…
I belong to the school of thought that work happens while it is in the making. In the beginning, all I see is an irresistible gaping abyss, waiting for me to plunge in. A pristine ground is the most seductive and formidable of dancing partners. The promises of possibilities are palpable… I relish each of these first encounters. By simply placing one foot in front of the other, at once leading and following, we embark on a journey of companionable explorations. Sometimes we have fine weather, sailing smoothly ahead of a gentle breeze. Other times we are tossed about in a stormy sea. Always we trust in our North Star to help our approach toward our destination, where the grand harmony of proportions awaits. When the song rings true, the work is done, and we are home.
Henry James said,” We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” This is my calling. There is a remarkable urgency and a sublime pleasure in such work, and so, I gladly submit to my good fortune.