Copyright © Happiness, Rejection, Smile, Chunbo Zhang, 2020. Cooked American cheese and Chinese rice on colored paper, 24” x 24” each.
Cheese Face Icon
In American cooking tradition, cheese and butter are essential ingredients, however, they are so foreign to Chinese. In this new developed series, I attempt to use cheese as the subject to reflect how American processed food is consumed by Chinese immigrates and their reactions to the displaced body that influence their cultural identity. I use American cheese slices to make the cut-out images of English letters “MORE Cheese” “NO Cheese” on colored paper in the form of face icon. With the iconic double red loves, “MORE Cheese” represents the younger generation of Chinese immigrants and American Born Chinese who love cheese, and how their displaced body by American cheese influences their cultural identity. Has their cultural identity changed? Do they still consider themselves Chinese or American? “NO Cheese” represents the older generation of Chinese immigrants who can’t digest cheese well, it also mimics their rejection to cheese when they order burgers, sandwiches or pizzas. On the smiling face icon, two Chinese characters “茄子” (Qie Zi) are cut out from cooked Chinese rice and placed as a pair of eyes. This Chinese saying “茄子” (Qie Zi ) sounds similar to American saying “cheese” when they take a photo. Both languages express the same feeling of happiness. To Chinese, rice is their comfort food, to American, so is cheese. The smiling face plays the double meanings in the two cultures.
Copyright © Blue & Red, Chunbo Zhang, 2019. Modified Chinese character SHOU is cut out from hamburger packages, 30" x 40" each.
寿Shou - Long Life?
In this installation, I use hamburger packages to make the large cut-out image of modified Chinese Character 寿 “Shou”, meaning “long life”. My intention is to bring up the question in a humorous way: does American fast food make you healthy and live longer?
About the Artist
Born and raised in northern China, Chunbo (Bo) is a painter and printmaker currently living in Chicago. Her current works explore the difference and connection between Chinese and American cultures using food as a venue. Bo approaches her paintings in realistic and surrealistic style by juxtaposing Chinese antique porcelain wares (from Ming and Qing Dynasty) with American food to reveal a cultural contrast between past and present, tradition and pop, high and low in a delightful way. Her 3-D works reflect how American fast and processed food is consumed by Chinese immigrants and how this consumption process influences their cultural identity. Bo uses ready-made materials such as hamburger packages, cheese, and Chinese rice to make cut-out images of word installations that play the humor and frustration.
Bo received her BFA in Printmaking from Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1994) and MFA from Emest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University in 2004. She has exhibited her works nationally and internationally at numerous venues including China National Museum of Art, Beijing, China; The 9th Shanghai Art Biennial, Shanghai, China; Hyde Park Art Center, Evanston Art Center, The Art Center Highland Park and Women Made Gallery, Chicago; Lightwell Gallery at University of Oklahoma, School of Art & Art History, Norman; University Library Gallery at California State University, Sacramento; Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta and Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, GA, etc. Her works are included in the public collections of Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon (Portland), College of Art & Sciences at Clayton State University (Atlanta), the Ministry of Culture of China (Beijing) and Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing). Bo is the awardee of 2019 SPARK grants given by Chicago Artists Coalition. She attended residences at Vermont Studio Center, Center Program at Hyde Park Art Center, Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and Poligrafa Printmaking Workshop, Barcelona, Spain.