The title of the medallion is Tectonic Melange.
It tells of the geological dynamics with the local land mass in motion and
under tension as well as the cultural fusion of Chinese and Western art, blending
contemporary concepts with ancient spirit. This design presents Chinese culture
in a postmodern form, synthesizing the vision of contemporary Chinese-American artists.
I wrote the Chinese calligraphy using the style of wild cursive script, or Chaoshu, from the Tang
Dynasty (618-907 C.E.) as the starting point to rearrange a more abstract pattern
in which the Chinese characters and rhythmic strokes could play. The calligraphy
in black granite superimposed on a warm and textured granite resonates with
an archaic spirit of the earth. All characters are arranged around and facing
the central red seal. The circular red symbol provides a focal point to the
Chinese calligraphy expresses the
evolution of Chinese civilization from the Neolithic period to modern times.
The seal symbolizes endorsement and completion in Chinese culture. The red seal, He or Unity, at the center of the courtyard is a commemoration of the
completion of this park and to those who contributed during the past 20 years
in the park project. The eight Chinese characters here come from the poem written
by Wang Bo (650-676 C.E.) of the Tang Dynasty: "This Lands splendor
spills from Heavens treasure, its remarkable people thrive on Earths
bounty. The meaning and the lines of the cursive calligraphy naturally
blend into the cultural character of the park and the San Francisco Bay Area.
With this concept and design, we won the San Francisco Arts Commissions
open design competition for the courtyard in 1994.
The Chinese characters were first written by me
on rice-paper. They were arranged to face the center and purposely cut and intersected
by the rectangular woven pattern. Then, the characters were scanned into the
computer, which controlled a waterjet machine to cut out the complicated shape
of the characters in black granite and the background in Giallo Veneziano -
the golden color granite. This technique allowed me to successfully
transfer the rhythm of calligraphic strokes onto the more permanent material
-granite. The center seal is traditionally red. I chose imperial red for the
crescent pattern on the outside edge to echo the color of the seal. The granite
we used is 2 thick. The more than one hundred pieces of granite
cut by the waterjet machine were shipped to the park. They were put together
on location over a 6 sub-slab of cement. The diameter of the whole granite
inset medallion is 26 feet (almost 7.93 meters). The square shape is 17 feet
(about 5.17 meters) in length and each of the character is 75 x 53
(about 1.9 x 1.35 meters).
This design is a continuation of the concepts and technique
that I use in my work on paper and canvas. Since my Dancing Ink series
in 1992 and my recent series - Contemplation Forces, I have been
trying to create a new visual language that incorporates the rhythm of Chinese
calligraphy and the dynamic quality of Western abstract painting. Traditional Chinese
calligraphic characters are cut, broken apart and re-organized. But the strokes
and energy remain, serving as a solid, though hidden, structure for the paintings
and keeping the sense and spirit of a traditional culture ever-present beneath
the images. At the same time, the complex backgrounds recall powerful landscape
paintings. I use calligraphic elements and atmospheric qualities in a new way
to express my particular vision.
My images celebrate the live energy underneath
the visible world and within each living being. In my recent series, I integrate
Eastern and Western art by breaking them apart and rediscovering the core elements
and essence of each culture. I put them back together to create a totally new
and unique visual experience for the viewer, one that hopefully captures the
sense of wonder and discovery I find in the two traditions. This is what I attempt
to contribute to the world of postmodern art.