Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Artists Gallery: Kwei-lin Lum

Kwei-lin's work is always a revelation: she takes familiar stories, shapes and colors and creates something fresh, unique and provocative. Whether it's Fortune Cookies, the Day of the Dead, West Side Story or Pop Art, I'm always eager to see her take on it and add it to my collection.

Her latest work is "Pangea: United Continents," and here is how she describes it:

"This is a mix-and-match set with an international theme. There are 18 separate pages. The purpose is to cut everything out and mix heads with bodies and mix outfits. The pieces can also be altered, cut into parts, and combined. All 12 figures are the same shape, and there are 101 heads. Copying pages for personal use is OK because 12 figures may not be enough. The end result is a cut set of hybridized paper dolls and clothing. Hopefully the user will find some surprises and humor in the combinations. I've been cutting the set out to see how it worked, and I find it very fun to play with. Then again, we all like our own 'babies.'

"On a less technical level, I wanted to create an activity that amounted to freeing things from their familiar environments. When the playset elements are no longer held to their past places, they have the potential to morph into something else, by interacting with things from different realms. The mix and match also achieves a degree of connectedness among all of the parts. (And yes, I've imposed a unity by using compatible colors and flat stylization.)"

Wow, thank you, Kwei-lin! What a beautiful meditation on the fluidity of identity and boundaries, geographic and otherwise. Below, the cover of Pangea:

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