A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Lin, Cynthia

Other Names: 林如茉

Artist Website
Female
Asian American, Chinese American

"As an Asian woman growing up in America, I have often found myself in the position of an outside observer, one who can look but not touch. Lacking claims for ownership to any single culture, I freely collected visual experiences from varied sources, sometimes with an unknowing or innocent disregard for their original contexts, driven by a curiosity for things unfamiliar and strange.

In strangeness I recognize a metaphor for foreign status: both occur when a thing separates itself from its origin and the structures that aid in its reading. Although carrying a sense of loss, the uncertainty and complexity may allow a hopeful re-interpretation or transformation. The work celebrates the liminal state, the 'no place' through which images and events pass in transit from one place to another. The paintings depict a sudden familiarity within inexplicable circumstances, unintentional intersections.

I discover the familiar, the strangely elegant and peculiarly tactile, in simulated imagery: artificially contrived drips, splashes, and stencils begin to mimic Chinese calligraphy, roadmap lines, exotic shapes, grids, and psychedelic swirls. Often appearing accidental and therefore ambivalent, they resist commitment to a single reading. Thus they evoke particular associations while maintaining their nonintentional status. These simulations metaphorically comment on the demands of cultural assimilation, which force an identity to be suppressed or altered in order to be read.

As these subjective experiences accumulate, they become entangled and twisted. Roles shift, meld and even reverse: the artificial becomes genuine, strident tensions are accommodated, the subtle carries a loud voice, and the enigmatic is revealing."

Cynthia Lin, Artist Statement

Gallery of Selected Works