The World of Joyce Hsu:
A Site Specific Installation of Dogs, Daises, and Flying Objects
Feb 13 - May 15, 2005
Installation artist Joyce Hsu will transform the Bedford Gallery into a fantasyland filled with imaginary creatures that move, charm, and evoke a sense of being in the middle of a cartoon or animated movie. She invites viewers into a world where the logic and themes of childhood stories rule. “When I first saw Joyce’s work I felt I’d been transported into an elaborate daydream or a sophisticated Saturday morning cartoon,” says Bedford Gallery Curator Carrie Lederer. “She has created a family of characters that are at once friendly, intimate, engaging and alien and uses many of them repeatedly—like a language—to construct and explore metaphorical stories about the meaning of human relationships, the search for true friendship.”
In Hsu's colorful and animated “World of Soong Wei,” viewers are met by large kinetic insects hovering over tall, brightly colored plastic flowers that are guarded by cartoonish, 3-D creatures named NaaBees. But the NaaBees are not as innocent as they look, as Hsu notes in her detailed instructions that parody toy-packaging instructions. She advises that the NaaBees are not intended to be a child's toy and not to leave children alone with them.
Joyce Hsu grew up in the Hong Kong world of Hello Kitty and My Melody. Her work plays with the idea of cute companions, ones that will protect us from harm and give us comfort, support and love. However, there is a fly in the ointment, as Hsu reminds us that all things cute are not necessarily cuddly. She describes her work as "a display of my idiosyncratic way of trying to deal with some of our weaknesses as humans: our yearning for companionship, our dependence on machines and the need for materiality . . . All of which reveal our vulnerabilities as human.”
Joyce Hsu was born in Hong Kong in 1973 and currently lives and works in the Bay Area. She received her B.F.A. from Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, in 1996 and an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1998. She has shown her fantastical creations throughout the Bay Area including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Haines Gallery and Southern Exposure in San Francisco, the San Jose Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose and abroad. She received a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation in 1998, a New Langton Arts Bay Area Award in 1999, and in 2002 was an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.
In an Artist's Statement from 2002, Hsu said about her work: "By adopting cuteness and consumerism as strategies and appropriating the language and marketing style of the cartoon and the children's toy industries (especially from Asia), I hope to comment on how our fantasy life has been mechanized and packaged as products. If kids need gangs, popular culture will sell them, and if we need fantasy alternative families and friends, those can be supplied as well."
Viewers walking through Hsu's virtual landscape are both spectator and participant and are encouraged to explore this artist's astounding and unique worldview.