UWL alumni artists returned to exhibit work as part of the Alumni Association Big Birthday Bash activities
Alumnus Harold Lee’s artwork is so large — with the average piece spanning 40 inches by 60 inches — it can easily fill a wall. But his work goes deep too. It explores the complexity of people’s inner emotions and his own struggles in life. During UWL’s Art Alumni Exhibition in October, Lee hoped viewers of his work would take a long and hard look at that complexity and how he creatively represents it.
Ten UWL art graduates, including Lee, exhibited their post-graduation work at the exhibition at the University Art Gallery. Returning alumni included:
- Jenn Bushman, ’06
- Jim Dunn, ’13
- Ellie East, ’16
- Eric Hansen, ’14
- Joseph Keenan, ’10
- Harold Lee, ’17
- Kat Liu, ’13
- Sam Posso, ’14
- Joel Starkey, ’03
- Elizabeth West, ’17
Lee, ’17, says UWL is where he first grew fascinated with art during his junior year — taking classes in printmaking, photography and graphic design. His work builds on his UWL foundational skills in all of those areas, as well as a master’s degree in fine arts from Parsons School of Design – The New School.
Now a New York-based artist, Lee has displayed his work internationally in New York City, South Korea, China and Japan. His work conveys the complexity of people’s inner emotions by superimposing dozens of images on top of one another. A single moment is made up of so much more than what meets the eye, he explains. It is clouded with people’s ideas, perceptions and patterns. By superimposing photos, the viewer of his artwork sees these multiple worlds running in parallel time.
“When a viewer stands in front of my work, I hope to make them feel immersed in the image entirely, and I hope they feel the same thing I felt creating it and can be aware of the complexity of humans and our behavior,” says Lee.
He likes that his art can represent abstract ideas. And he recalls how UWL professors pushed him to embrace conveying those ideas.
The Art Alumni Invitational was an opportunity to showcase where he has come with his artwork and ideas, he says.
Kat Liu refocuses camera on misrepresentations of Asian women
The camera has often misrepresented Asian women, explains UWL art alumna Kat Liu.
Liu, ’13, uses her own camera to provide a response. Through photography and video, Liu explores her identity as a plus-sized, Taiwanese-Chinese American woman while navigating racial and gender-based violence and stereotypes she has experienced.
Growing up, Liu recalls little to no Asian representation in the media or on-screen. When she did see Asians represented, they were made a mockery of or exoticized. In film, East Asian women fall into the Dragon Lady or China Doll tropes, she notes.
“The first is deceitful and domineering, while the second is submissive and passive,” she explains. “Though these tropes are on the opposite of two extremes, they share a common thread of hypersexual and objectified depictions.”
Liu says her camera is a way to take back ownership of these tropes in order to subvert the narrative of the trope itself.
“Adorning myself in oriental-inspired clothing and accessories, I take on the role of the ‘perpetual foreigner,’” she says. “In becoming a familiar construct, my goal is to disrupt these notions in order to humanize Asian American women and the wider Asian American community.”
Liu went on to receive an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2018. She is now an adjunct photography faculty member at Columbia College Chicago and Mchenry County College. She says returning for the exhibition was an opportunity to see works by fellow alumni and connect with teachers and students from her time on campus.