Colette Fu | Claes Gabriel | Hiro Sakaguchi
Artists Talk & Opening Reception: Thursday, April 2, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Artists Talk: 5:00 – 5:30 pm | Reception 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Rowan University Art Gallery presents Tracing Origins, a group exhibition that brings together three Philadelphia-based artists, Colette Fu,Claes Gabriel, and Hiro Sakaguchi, who create work inspired by their ancestral homelands and native cultures. Pulling from personal memories, experiences, and familial influences, their stories are expressed through photography, paper engineering, painting, and sculpture.
Colette Fu creates one-of-a-kind collapsible artist’s books that combine photography with pop-up paper engineering. In Tracing Origins, she will present a series of books based on Kunming, the capital city of her mother’s birthplace in Yunnan Province. Literally translating as “South of the Clouds,” Yunnan is China’s most southwestern Province, sharing borders with Tibet, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. With snow-capped mountains to the Northwest and tropical rainforests to the South, Yunnan is rich in natural resources and has the largest diversity of plant life in China. While in Yunnan, Colette discovered that her Great-Grandfather helped establish the university where she was teaching, was a member of the powerful black Yi tribe, and was the governor and general of Yunnan during the transitional years of WWII. There are twenty-five ethnic minority groups that reside in Yunnan, which comprise less than 9% of the nation’s population. Many people inside China, and most people outside of the country, are unaware of this cultural richness.
Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Claes Gabriel’s work combines the cultural richness of Haiti with contemporary practice and use of materials that mimic tribal masks and totems.The shape of each piece informs its unique personality, which Gabriel heightens with bright color, eyes, and lips. Gabriel’s first influence was his father, Jacques Gabriel (1934–1988), a classically-trained painter who depicted the lushness and vibrant life of Haiti in his own paintings. He was also influenced by contemporary artists such as Frank Stella and Sam Gilliam. Referencing Haitian culture through color, folklore, and his own imagined tales, Gabriel creates a mythical like presences in each artwork.
Hiro Sakaguchi was born in Nagano, Japan and grew up in Chiba City, near Tokyo. Arriving in the US in the 1990s, Sakaguchi creates ambiguous atmospheric paintings based on his memories of life growing up in Japan. His work reflects issues of environment, ecology, science, world history, peace and conflict, and popular culture. Symbolism and narrative provide a conceptual platform for him. Models, toys, and games from childhood often appear in his works. This innocent point of departure allows Sakaguchi to get at the heart of more current topics and adult concerns while simultaneously telling a loosely autobiographical story.
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