Asian Australian Artists COVID-19

Chris Yee’s Artwork Reflects The Stories And Histories Of Eastwood During The Pandemic

Sydney based artist Chris Yee believes in the power of character and storytelling and is heavily drawn to constructing narratives ranging from the humorous to the monstrous and macabre. Inspired by Comics, Wrestling, K-pop, punk and 2000’s rap, his art reflects his passions and he has a unique take and a way of combining his passions and inspirations with his artwork.

Yee grew up in Ryde during the 90s, which is one of the suburbs neighbouring Eastwood in Sydney’s Northwest, and has lived and worked amongst the always evolving and changing Asian-Australian community in his capacity as a creative.

Yee’s art work with a number of other Asian/Asian Australian creatives will form part of exhibition “52 Actions” which is currently being displayed at at Penrith Regional Gallery til 27 November 2022, before touring nationally. The exhibition features works from 52 Australian artists and collectives from each state and territory, focusing on the importance of art as action. In addition to Yee, the other Asian/Asian Australian artists include Jason Phu, Min Wong, Louise Zhang and Guo Jian.

Yee’s exhibition is called “Crossing Line”, which is a series of new animations that expands on a previous joint community project Eastwood Threads, collecting and interpreting their personal histories, thoughts and interactions with the suburb. His exhibition also reflects on the impact of the pandemic on the Asian/Asian Australian community in the area. In a recent interview, Yee speaks passionately about how his Asian Australian identity inspires this exhibition as well as all the vibrancy of Eastwood with its diversity.

“Throughout my career, I have always tried to represent a voice for Asians and the Asian Australian community. I think there is such a unique identity and personality within our communities especially in the suburbs of Sydney like Cabramatta, Eastwood, Strathfield etc”, said Yee.

“Our Asian Australian communities are really colourful and bright, so with this body of work “Crossing Line” is inspired by those in Eastwood and because we have been plagued by the pandemic over the last few years, my work reflects that. One of the challenges faces whilst working on this was to decipher the stories from the older to younger generations and to work out how to incorporate this into my works”.

Yee also reflects on his journey and why and how he became an artist and devote his career to being a creative.

” I was born and raised in Ryde and now I live in Eastwood. I moved to Eastwood just before the pandemic started at the end of 2019. My place in Eastwood is my home, my studio and where I get my creative energy from. In terms of why I became an artist for around a decade I have been doing commercial illustration and I started from a tapestry design background”, Yee discussed.

“I kind of made my way into the arts and combining different mediums with illustration, which was my passion and then I dipped into animation which was really self taught. So this exhibition at “52 Actions” is kind of centred around the animation part of my career.”

Finally, with the rise of anti-Asian hate across the world and specifically in Australia due to the pandemic, how can the creative work of Yee and other Asian Australian creatives change the narrative?

“It is interesting that within Eastwood, especially during the pandemic was really one of the first areas where the racism started to spread. There was the atmosphere that no one was coming to Eastwood and even the people living within the community stayed away. The xenophobia was quite surprising and shocking at the start, and I feel as an Asian creative we are agents in the industry and represent the issues impacting on our community”.

“In terms of changing the narrative, I think it comes down to representation and being able to tell your story and perspective. The last few years have been a very interesting time especially since the world has changed. But ultimately being represented helps in every way and showing that our voices matter. As a creative that is shown through our work – that is our voice”.

If you are interested in checking out Chris Yee’s exhibition “Crossing Line”, it will be exhibited along with others at the Penrith Regional Gallery till November 27.

Images via Artspace

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