It Speaks for Itself?
Featuring Wen-hao Tien & Adriel Luis
Wen-hao Tien is an artist and educator living in Cambridge, MA. Her studio practice is rooted in language and cross-cultural observations. She notices what many do not see, and her multi- disciplinary work brings out narratives of our changing societies, and life-in-flux. She was recently featured on NPR’s The World radio program for her project, Teach Me Your Song where she invited the public to teach her a song at her solo show in Boston’s Pao Arts Center. The result is a collection of recordings that portrays the plurality of our society. Her exhibition at Gaslight Gallery showcases her investigation of a wide range of mundane materials, and how she interprets line, sculpture and painting in the inescapable beauty of nature. She says, “Although my artistic process is about honing and evolving my thoughts and emotional senses, I am more interested in how you see it. How does a particular piece speak to you? What will you say back?”
This is Wen-hao’s first Maryland solo, and an exciting collaboration with Adriel Luis.
“My practice explores how identity crosses, merges, and transcends culture. Words (legible or illegible) and everyday mundane objects are my sources of inspiration. Growing up in post-cold war Asia with the previous two generations of my family displaced by natural disasters and war, my work responds to our changing societies, the environment, and our lives in flux. As an interdisciplinary artist, I have studied orthodox Chinese calligraphy with great effort. I am deeply moved by where a simple shape and curve can take me—every stroke vibrates, has music.”
Wen-hao is also Assistant Director at Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies, and studio art faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. In her professional role, Wen-hao builds interdisciplinary scholarly communities. She earned her MPH at Columbia University, and her MFA at Lesley University College of Art and Design.
Curator Statement by Adriel Luis:
“We are bombarded with so much content, constant reactions, and no shortage of words – but it remains difficult as ever to find meaning. Sometimes what cannot be communicated must instead be sensed, evoked, intuited. When every moment is followed by endless opinions, this may be the only way we can recall how to trust ourselves.
Artist Wen-hao Tien’s body of work is rich with various plays on language, but it never quite seems to be about what is said or written. Instead, the artist invites us experience how the words land on us, how they feel while ingested, and how we each uniquely respond. It Speaks for Itself? is a new conversation about our nature of communication.”
Adriel Luis is a community organizer, artist, writer, and curator who believes that collective liberation can happen in poetic ways. He is a part of the iLL-Literacy arts collective, which creates music and media to strengthen Black and Asian coalitions, and is creative director of Bombshelltoe, a collaborative of artists and leaders from frontline communities responding to nuclear histories. Adriel is the Curator of Digital and Emerging Practice at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. He has a degree in human ecologies from UC Davis.