For awhile I have been obsessed with Jessica So Ren Tang’s work and was itching to feature her art on the blog!
Jessica earned a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art from Mills College in Oakland, CA. She currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
Jessica works with embroidery as her medium. Her work is based on the Asian American identity and the idea of being too much or not enough of either Asian or American. She creates objects which negate themselves through their materials. While her figures feature Asian embroidery designs upon the skin which conceal the identity of the woman to reach a broader spectrum of all Asian women.
The color choice of thread is constantly high chroma and exciting. The embroidery itself is eye catching, but the color enhances their effect on the viewer.
The objects feature Asian noodle cups, classic Asian china (plates, cups etc.), and other objects embroidered after the literal object. This is where Jessica refers to Asian American objects of which appear to be the literal, but are a rejection of what they are by being constructed of a totally different material.
Looking at Jessica’s figures, we are not just seeing an anonymous woman with a classic Asian embroidery, but posed in intimate moments. Each woman is in a state of undress or undressing. It is as if she is stripping away her individual identity to show a lack of identity or a broad spectrum of identities all Asian women share. When we explore race, people will always think of attributes races will all share; for example with Asian women, people will automatically presume them to have long black hair, almond eyes, an olive cast to their skin tone, and are thin. Where this is true for some, but not all, this is where clumping race into one identity fails and strips people from their own individuality and humanity. At the same time if we think of this as uniting a broad spectrum of Asian women through they shared heritage, it can also be seen in a positive light.
What is so fascinating about Jessica’s work other than her phenomenally beautiful embroidery technique is her layered narratives. One can look at her work and see all the various subjects she touches upon and ways of viewing people and identity. Her work starts a broader conversation about race, how we perceive people, and how people perceive themselves.
To view more of Jessica’s work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram!