Six emerging visual artists from NSW have been shortlisted for the Create NSW and Artspace 2023 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) – and three of them are Asian/Asian Australian. These awesome three are EJ Son, Min Wong and Natalie Quan Yau Tso.
The prestigious $30,000 fellowship, now in its 26th year, provides a NSW visual arts practitioner in the early stages of their career the opportunity to undertake a program of significant professional development and career advancement. The shortlisted artists will participate in an exhibition at Carriageworks from Thursday 27 July – Sunday 27 August 2023, with the fellowship recipient announced at the official exhibition launch.
So Let’s find out a little about each of the three Asian/Asian Australians who have been shortlisted. Each of the three Asian/Asian Australian artists use different mediums to show themselves and express their views, journeys, interests, passion and activism.
Originally from South Korea, EJ Son’s art and creativity is based on their experiences growing up (being forced into career moulds, and do what is expected by traditional Asian parent expectations) and a look to the future.
“I call myself a transdisciplinary artist because I do a little bit of everything. Coming from South Korea, my art reflects my family, upbringing and experiences as well as hope and look towards the future. I use ceramics and any type of medium which is available for my artworks. A memory I have is when I was in South Korea and attended primary school for a bit, the teacher asked what we would like to be in the future – I drew an artist. I bought the picture I drew home, showed my parents and my dad was outraged. He was like ‘no way, you will become a dentist’, Son told Being Asian Australian in a recent interview.
“I think the repression of my desires, or having any sense of self autonomy was erased at a very young age for me. This happens a lot with Asian immigrant families, even though it is not explicitly just Asian. I hated being forced to fit in a specific mould, and anytime I was being boxed, that made me frustrated. I think this explains who I am and why I consider myself a transdicsplinary artist – it is in a way liberating myself and my art and creative works”.
For artist and creative Min Wong, her artistic practice is focused on installation and sculpture. Professionally, her career has been in art – achieving a Masters in Fine Arts, being a researcher and a lecturer at the University of NSW in sculpture studies. She has also worked in many capacities at art galleries and as an exhibition design administrator – a very great repertoire of work.
“I have always been interested in sculpture and installations for a very long time, way before I became an artist. I guess you can call me a seeker and someone who has always tried looking for different ways to see the world and live my life. Whether its through living an alternative lifestyle – like yoga and meditation, traveling and/or delving myself in spiritual practices and educating myself, art brings all these things together for me”, Wong stated.
“I am half Chinese and was brought up Chinese by my father. I was also brought up with those ritualised practices like ancestral worship and things like that. My mother was an Evangelist Christian, so that was my reality and why I inject different forms of spirituality into my creative works particularly those outside of mainstream religions.
Artist Natalie Quan Yau Tso, it is visual and performance art which makes her feel passion and excitement. Tso’s work revolves around how the personal body can tell political stories and show the thin division between the personal and political. The Hong Kong Australian artist has always been creative, and since childhood was a dancer. She also loved drawing and this became more of a passion at fourteen when she immigrated with her family to Australia and she turned her difficulties fitting in with pursuing arts.
“In a way I want to make a statement with my art. As a visual and performance artist, my work is focused on how the personal body can tell political stories. I am interested in embodied knowledge, and all the materials I use for my art reflect this. So most of my visual artworks are kind of like remnants of me. In performance, I activate or in the process of making the sculptures I perform them and allow my bodily knowledge tell the story”, Tso expressed.
“I moved to Australia with my family from Hong Kong when I was fourteen. And learning to live a new life in a new country as a teenager was hard so I turned to arts. I was either dancing, drawing or painting and eventually went to art school to pursue it all. At some point I felt tired of having two sides to myself, so I put all my learnings in life and my experiences in the art I do. For me using the body is the middle ground and is the way I communicate”.
The 2023 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) is part of a suite of Create NSW Creative Leadership and Fellowship programs. This fellowship, co-presented by Artspace at Carriageworks, will support NSW visual arts practitioners in the early stages of their career to challenge, and expand their practice. Shortlisted applicants will receive mentorship from Artspace’s curatorial team over three months to realise works for the exhibition.
Good luck to EJ, Min and Natalie!