Oil on Canvas (24x36")
This painting is about nostalgia for the lands my parents left behind when they immigrated from China to the US in the 1980s, externalities of capitalism, and rapid technological advancements that changed the land and waterways. 70% of the world’s e-waste ends up in the Guangdong Province in Southeast China. In Guiyu, a town near the Lianjiang river, pollution has made it impossible to produce crops and the river undrinkable. 80% of children suffer from lead poisoning. Piles of ash and plastic waste sit on the ground beside rice paddies and dikes holding in the Lianjiang River.
We don’t tend to think of this when we upgrade to the latest iPhone and turn in our old phone for recycling. Going back to China is now like going back to a foreign land because it has transformed and is unrecognizable. What is our fantasy of going back to our motherland, and what is the reality that faces us?
I painted this during the Shelter in Place order during the 2020 COVID-19 public health emergency. There is another type of nostalgia, a longing for connecting in physical space, yet also a freedom and creative potential that is born from solitude and slowing down.