oil paintings on Canvas and paper, 2020.
Alyssa Tang is a visual artist and architectural designer born and raised in Toronto. Graduating from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Architecture, Alyssa has been pursuing art in parallel with her exploration in spatial design. Her Canadian Chinese identity combined with a transient educational journey has molded her values in diversification of culture, knowledge and interests. Alyssa’s recent work focuses on the exploration of identity, and the intersection of heritage, culture and design.
Piece Description: In my Skin
Oil painting on canvas
36” x 48”
With the advancement and growing popularity of social media, like many people, I found myself exposed to more and more accounts of hate and violence. As we watched the outbreak of Covid-19 spread to western countries, we also witnessed a rise in Anti-Asian rhetoric which trickled down from those in positions of power, to the everyday person’s news intake.Seeing the rise in hate crimes towards people of the Asian community was both heartbreaking and eye-opening. Growing up in Toronto, I was extremely privileged to live in a culturally diverse community. I was never made uncomfortable because of the colour of my skin, and never had to conceal my heritage. I was lucky to grow up in a country that prided itself in diversity and acceptance.
Unfortunately, this pandemic has uncovered the ugly racism that exists in our country, no matter how diverse or accepting, we as a country like to believe we are. On certain days, I contemplated the irony, the fact that our skin, the largest organ in our bodies, which serves to weatherproof, protect, insulate us, became the target for disapproving glances, racial slurs, and even physical attacks. The mixture of self-consciousness, vulnerability, fear, anger, and pain became familiar emotions that lingered in the back of my mind. The quiet reflections and discourses with friends and family, inspired this faceless self-portrait showing a body with multiple hands trying its best to comfort itself. The different hands express a spectrum of emotions, from anger, shame, to protectiveness. Without associating these human emotions to a face, I hope the painting can speak to a more universal crowd, who can perhaps find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in this fight.
Piece Description: Thank You Have a Nice Day
Oil on Paper
Growing up Chinese Canadian in Toronto, the "thank you, have a nice day" plastic bag was an iconic symbol associated with Chinatown and the Asian community.
This graphic serves as the motif for a new series which recognizes the hardships conquered, and celebrates the talents and contributions of individuals across the Asian diaspora, who are breaking boundaries and (re)defining Asian representation across different sectors. As part of an ongoing series, so far I have painted Takashi Murakami and Bruce Lee, and hope to paint more role models from the Asian community in the future.
Diane Wong, Elizabeth Davis, Tamara Harkness, Chaeyeon Park, Sarah Piché.