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Chen Chan Chen
The Honolulu Museum of Art presents the exhibit "Chen Chan Chen," by three artists who grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The idea for the project began when the three participating artists discovered unexpected overlaps among their histories. (September 30, 2016 - March 12, 2017)
The idea for Chen Chan Chen began when the three participating artists discovered unexpected overlaps among their histories. Their surnames are the same in Chinese characters. All born in the 1950s, they grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Nevertheless, their experiences as Chinese-American women have unfolded in different ways. The artists conceived of a project that would examine what impact this period of history might have had on their individual lives.
Diane Chen KW (born 1951) was born in Chicago. Her parents left China as the Communists were taking over, and met and married in New York City. Gaye Chan (born 1957) grew up in Hong Kong when it was a British territory and immigrated to Honolulu with her family in 1969 when she was 12. Constance (Yun Li) Chen (born 1953) grew up in Shanghai, China, and was an adolescent when the Cultural Revolution (formally, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) began in 1966. She later married a man from Honolulu and arrived here in 1987.
To provide framework, each artist started with a set of four identical mass-produced ceramic statues typical of the Chinese Cultural Revolution propaganda, including one of Mao Zedong in his iconic waving pose, right arm raised high. These objects made sense for their themes as well as their artistic trajectories. Diane Chen KW and Constance Chen Liu are ceramic artists, and Gaye Chan is a conceptual/installation artist who often works with found objects.
Our end of the year Talking Points newsletter reports on U.S.-China notables who passed in 2017.