The One With The…Amalgamations by Ming Ying Hong

Greta Lane

Staff Writer

The University Art Gallery (UAG) has the privilege to present Ming Ying Hong’s The One With The…Amalgamations. This exhibition combines two of her series of intricate artworks made using graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, and pastel. The two series that make up the exhibition are The One With The…. and Amalgamations. 

Photo Courtesy of Beylie Ivanhoe

Amalgamations combines forms and subjects often viewed as opposites. For instance, male and female, pleasure and pain, the beautiful and the grotesque. This series explores the ever-contracting and expanding sense of self and body. These works dare to erase the separation between binaries and show the drawbacks of harsh categorization. Ming describes these drawings as “in a state of constant becoming” which mirrors her views on the impermanence of the self. 

The One With The… shows “fragmented and caricature-like self-portraits that confront, and share, the uncomfortable and threatening experience of living in a racialized body, as seen through the filters of misconception and stereotypes.” In one image, viewers can make out the cat that has become an iconic identifier of Asian restaurants and shops in the U.S. The artist explained that while incorporating the cat into the image, she discovered that it is not of Chinese origin as she had assumed, but Japanese. This added layer of complexity and discovery is something that Ming Ying Hong finds so fascinating and rewarding about her line of work. 

Much of this series is influenced by her experiences living as an Asian-American woman, especially during the pandemic when there was a marked uptick in the instances of hate crimes towards Asian-American people. 

Each series serves to highlight how she perceives herself and her identities and the flexibility of said identities, while also showing the limitations of strict binaries and labels through art, which Ming considers to be a great perk of creative endeavors. Living through each phase of life, through each trauma, and every joyous moment, forms a unique experience that lives within you. These experiences might be difficult or awkward at first, but with time identities settle and become comfortable. 

Photo Courtesy of Beylie Ivanhoe

In her artist statement, she says, “The work explores hybridized bodies, examining the way we define, categorize, and assign power to them. Recognizable forms are fragmented, defamiliarized, and remixed to create an uncanny hodgepodge of forms that were previously magnetically opposed to one another. The work encourages us to examine the in-between spaces of these binaries—the spaces that fall outside of our clear-cut definitions and hierarchies.”

Currently, Ming is an associate professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, but her love of art stems from her childhood hobbies. At her artist talk, Ming shared pictures of her younger self and described why she enjoys making art and how she began her art journey. She reminisced on the hours she spent as a child making crayon drawings in her home. This is a relatable scenario for many, which is why she appreciates the act of drawing – it can be done by virtually anyone. The act of drawing is indiscriminate and it does not matter if you are a CEO, a college student, or a child, you can still pick up a pencil and draw what you are feeling.

This love of drawing stuck with her throughout her life and brought her through a BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Kentucky, as well as an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis as a Danforth Scholar. In 2021, the accreditation continued as Ming Ying Hong was named the South Arts State fellow for Mississippi.  

Photo Courtesy of Beylie Ivanhoe

The One With The…Amalgamations will be available to view from October 25 through December 11, 2023. Be sure to make some time to stop by the University Art Gallery located in Guerry to take a look at her thought-provoking and detailed pieces. 

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