Clayton Bi

Lǎo Lao

May 13 – 20, 2024

Honor’s Thesis Exhibition – Mezzanine Gallery

“This project is dedicated to my grandmother, and to my family.  

My grandmother is the cornerstone of my upbringing, and to this day she is a constant inspiration and guiding force in my life. Her unwavering presence and care are instrumental in shaping my character and my outlook on life. By dedicating a semester to my studio investigations in painting and photography, I seek a deeper, more profound understanding in order to articulate the intricate tapestry of emotions, memories, and stories that define our bond.

Considering my coterie of emotions and how they have overtaken me, I felt compelled to extract some yet unknown essence of my grandmother’s life. As an art student, I wanted to discover more. I began by selecting, developing, scanning, and printing a series of 44-by-55 inch photographs from a medium format of black-and-white films. These photos not only encircle my grandmother and her spirit, they also depict important, authentic life scenes from my hometown, Chengdu, China. Tantamount to the photographs, I created a series of black and white abstract paintings using traditional Chinese ink and raw Xuan paper. They revolve around the history of my family. They are the visual tangibility of the story within my household. They are the transfigurations of my bond with my grandmother. 

The two media forms: the paintings, the photographs, quietly dialogue with each other in the gallery. The language they speak transitions between the illusional reality of the photos and the dreamlike reflection of past memories from the paintings. 

The exhibition is personal. It not only reveals my grandmother’s indispensable role in my life, it also honors her spiritual influence which inhabits me. I hope to engage the opportunity to reflect on and document the profound emotional landscape that has been cultivated over the generations of my family. 

I offer this honors exhibition as a testament to the power of art – to capture and convey the essence of human relationships and the indelible impact of family heritage.”

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