On view: Friday, September 22 – Thursday, October 19 in the Holzwasser Gallery
Opening reception: Friday, September 22, 6-8 PM
Wen-hao Tien has spent countless hours looking for traces of wilderness in the city, namely, plants that normally go unnoticed—or, if noticed, are usually pulled out or mowed over. She transplanted what many consider unsightly weeds from across New England, combining them into a living sculpture.
The seeds of these plants, transported by wind and birds, flourished in a wealth of unexpected habitats—the wall of a canal lock, a sidewalk, the unseen edge of a landscaped garden. During outings with a “weed-mobile” that she built, she encountered curiosity and varying perspectives from neighbors and strangers. One person’s discarded plant is another’s crucial ingredient in a recipe, she learned. In the audio recording, she draws attention to what she calls “weed words” in various languages in order to surface linguistic habits that align with the treatment of weeds. What are “pure” words and plant species, versus “invasive”? How do powerful forces such as migration, rejection and assimilation affect the norms of culture as well as natural world?
Tien’s work asks us to contemplate ideas of wantedness and unwantedness, control and letting go, alienation and belonging, and fundamentally, the tension between wholeness and persistent transformation within our society. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the installation by weeding-out or weeding-in plants.
ABOUT WEN-HAO TIEN: Wen-hao Tien is a visual artist, educator, and Assistant Director of Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies, Regional Studies.
Wen-hao grew-up in Taiwan and later moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies. Her studio artwork focuses on language and translation, and explores culture and identity through a unique cross-cultural lens. She is also known for her contemporary Chinese calligraphy, and painting.
A long time Cambridge resident, her professional background includes 15 years working at Harvard University’s Asia studies centers and a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University. She is currently an Master of Fine Arts degree candidate at the Lesley University’s College of Art and Design. See more of Tien’s work here.