Here stands Chee Wang Ng, sunshine incarnate, kisser of babies, long distance rider of buses, visionary builder of labyrinths and for the rest of the week, our guest.
Please give him a warm Kentucky welcome.
In this not very fancy iPad photo, Chee has just ridden 24 hours on a bus from New York.
“I don’t mind the bus,” the native of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia says brightly, “I just need some coffee.”
Caffeinated and undaunted by his long journey, Chee cheerfully greets the empty room of the Loudoun House that will be his three dimensional canvas for the next week.
Chee is one of five artists who are spending all week transforming the Loudoun House with large-scale, site-specific installation art.
His project, The Three Hundred and Sixty Walks of Life Labyrinth, is a terrific example of his internationally celebrated work engaging the Chinese diaspora. His work has twice been reviewed by The New York Times and has been exhibited in museums around the world. You can learn more about Chee’s work on his website.
Or you can meet him in person by dropping by the Loudoun House this week as he arranges 360 rice bowls from 60 different countries in a spiral of multi-level shelving.
Chee’s installation juxtaposes the centuries-old symbolism the rice bowl has in China’s cultural legacy with the notion of professions, labor, and what one does in order to make a living.
“One kind of rice feeds a hundred types of people,” is one of the idioms on which Chee bases his work. Another is the vernacular usage of the phrase “making a living.” In Chinese, the phrase roughly translates to “in search of eat or food” and in Southern China in particular, the phrase is “in search of rice.”
Drawing on this notion of making a living as how one gets rice, Chee explained in his project proposal that there were 36 established trades during the Tang Dyanasty (618-907 A.D.) but by the Ming Dynasty (1384-1644 A.D.), there were over 360.
The rice bowls featured in the exhibition, some dating back to the Song Dynasty and some as new as the 21st century, will form swirls of the labyrinth based on the five elements of Chinese cosmology, becoming moving meditations about the place and purpose of our professions and approaches to our “search for food.”
“Most of us hold and change countless jobs in our lives that require many skills, trainings and talent,” Chee wrote in his project proposal. “How do you define and identify your ‘vessel of substance– ‘rice bowl’ in your ‘search for food’? How far do you go for your humble bowl of rice? How do you feed your inner soul?”
We suggest you feed your inner soul by standing within 20 feet of Chee’s contagiously positive energy, or by visiting his installation during the opening of SITE this Friday, May 24 from 6-9 p.m.
You can also swing by the Loudoun House during gallery hours (10-4 p.m.) and watch him work in person and catch him on our live stream.