Two artists recently visited the Charles B. Wang center to celebrate their latest art exhibitions. Corky Lee and Chee Wang Ng each had their own exhibition on the display in the Wang Center. On Wednesday, April 17, a reception was held for them where they both spoke about their works.
Jennifer Iacona, the coordinator for Asian/American Programs, opened the reception by briefly introducing Lee and Ng and drawing attention to the student photographs that were also on display. She said in her opening remarks that Lee’s work is political and seeks to bring attention to those who are usually invisible to American society. She also said he “has spent over 40 years of documenting Asian-Pacific-American life and culture.”
Dr. Frank Shih, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Long Island Chapter, also spoke about Lee. “Our goal [of OCA Long Island] is to advocate for social justice for Asian/Pacific Americans. To promote civic engagement and cultural education and is to force the cultural heritage. And you think of those three goals, you really can’t do one of them without doing the other two of them,” Shih said in his opening remarks. “You can see how Corky’s work embodies all those three goals. I see him as an advocate in that he advocates to break down a lot of stereotypes. You will see him celebrating Asians break-dancing or Asians playing the bagpipes.”
Lee said that his exhibit, “Asian Roots/American Soil: The Photographs of Corky Lee,” is the largest one he has ever had on Long Island and that it comprises 64 photographs.
However, he focused more on the student’s artwork. “Corky did a workshop explaining his work,” Iacona said, “and he gave them an assignment.” The students had to photograph Asian life on the campus and their community. Lee judged them and picked the best to be placed on display in the Wang Center.
“What I was really concerned about during this exhibit was to have students, which I know at Stony Brook represents 27 percent of the student population, so that means every fourth student is Asian,” Lee said. “So the idea came up to do a photo exhibit. I’m actually more proud of what the students did from the assignment that came about.”
Lee chose 19 student photographs to be displayed. “I saw a little bit of myself in those photographs,” Lee said.
In addition to mentioning Lee, Shih also briefly spoke about Ng. “Chee Wang Ng is a product of the diaspora,” Shih said. “The Chinese have this incredible diaspora. They’re all over the world.”
Ng’s work, “Five Elements: Six Roots Contemplate Its Origin in the Spoon Fed World,” was specifically designed for the Wang Center. The former director, Dr. Sunita S. Mukhi, invited Ng to display his work in the Wang Center. She had wanted Ng’s exhibit “108 Global Rice Bowls” on display, however, the exhibit focuses around sound. “I saw the site,” Ng said. “The 108 bowls wouldn’t work because the fountain is too noisy.”
Based on the raised black floor, Ng was able to create the new exhibit. He had been working on the five elements part of the exhibit for a while, and the spoons worked out with the raised black floor.
The exhibition comprises various red, yellow, green, black and white bowls and multiple white spoons. Each spoon is different and from a different location in the world. Several of these spoons are also holding globes.
“Chee Wang Ng has this beautiful exhibit,” Shih said, “His work talks about the diaspora.”
The goal of Ng’s exhibition is to help people to realize the differences and commonalities between themselves and others. He made the point that while all bowls serve the same purpose, every bowl is different.
“We are same and different,” Ng said, “We are individual and we exist together.”
The exhibitions have gained popularity and have even had a “New York Times” article written on them. “They’ve gotten really great coverage,” Iacona said. “A lot of community members have come to see the works.”
The exhibitions began on March 1 and will be on display until May 12.