Last Wednesday we took a walking field trip to the only gallery in Jackson Heights, the Y Gallery. We brought along our handy viewfinders and pretended to take pictures of interesting compositions and subjects along the way. The exhibition (now over) was called Making Gook Luck and focused on the talismans of artists from all over the world, but who live and make work in New York. Cecilia, the curator, talked with the students at length about some of the pieces and even explained what it means to design and put together an exhibition. Go to the Y gallery's website! The downloable PDF essay about the exhibit has images of all the works.
Our favorite piece was the one we could experience, by Lina Puerta, called "Tree." Each student took his/her turn sitting inside and pulling closed the flaps, watching the slow birth of the light all around them, which came together at the top, seemingly eons away from the viewer. While offering a sancutary Puerta also reminds us that in many cultures trees are a source and symbol of good luck. They are also vital for our survival, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Puerta is a Colombian-American artist who lives and works in New York City. To look at more of her work, check out her website, linapuerta.net
The students also really liked the piece hanging in the middle of the gallery, by Ian Laughlin, entitled "Tiki—Fortune Favors the Bold," which playfully blends goodluck symbols from indigenous Maori culture (New Zealand), with American pennies and a western GoodYear tire. On the backside, with the pennies, it reads Lady Luck and accompanies the sillouette of a woman.
For more links of artists in the show:
Venezuelan born Alejandra Villasmil displayed the importance of friendship in her piece, "Never Ending Offering (Hopefully)," where a Chinese dragon (symbol of goodluck) is hung with portraits of her friends, who she believes to be her personal talismans.
Ikjoong Kang emigrated from South Korea to NYC in 1984 and his work is about recording the small daily experiences of his new life with a new culture and a new language. He has had lots of success doing public art here in the US but when he first arrived he worked at a grocery store and peddled watches on the street in Chinatown. His piece in the Making Good Luck Show, called "Buddha with Lucky Objects," included a curved collection of dozens of colorful images of Buddha, adorned on top with small lucky statuettes from around the world, including a Laughing Buddha, a model car, a college graduate, and a Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Questions posed to the class:
How does luck play a role in the experience of an immigrant?
Did you or your family have any lucky items they brought with them from their native country?
What's your talisman?