As a Chinese American artist, I dialogue with and challenge the affective racialized, gendered constructions that codify my body and identity as “harmless” and “non-threatening” within the hegemonic West. I am interested in how my presence has the capacity to disarrange systems of prediction based upon otherness and threat. I see slippery, chameleonic identity as a form of infiltration: a soft power reversal within hard architectures of power. I explore these subjects through a diverse range of media and strategies including film/video, installation, social interventions, sculpture, writing, and painting.

Bio

stephanie mei huang is a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist. She uses a diverse range of media and strategies including film/video, installation, social interventions, sculpture, writing, and painting. Through research and practice, she aims to erode the violent mythologies that perpetuate expansionist and exceptionalist narratives, in the hopes of excavating forgotten, erased, and partial histories. She yearns to locate sites of emergence from which we can perhaps fabulate new and adjacent histories. She recently completed her MFA in Art at the California Institute of the Arts (2020), and she received her BA from Scripps College (2016). She is a contributor to the Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. She has taught at non-profits such as the Marfa Studio of Arts and Venice Arts. She most recently exhibited at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the New Wight Biennial at the University of California, Cerritos Gallery, the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, and Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland. She will have solo exhibitions with 4th Ward Project Space, Chicago and Hauser & Wirth Book and Printed Matter Lab, Los Angeles in the coming year. She has been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, The Getty Foundation, the California Community Foundation, among others.

 

Statement

Within the first six years of my life, I moved from Wisconsin to Indiana, then to Yokohama, Japan, and to Shanghai, China. Through this diasporic upbringing, my work finds its roots in globalization and the role of of cultural fragmentation and displacement in changing perceptions of nationhood, loss, and identity. Through research and practice, I aim to erode the violent mythologies that perpetuate expansionist, exceptionalist, and settler colonial narratives, in the hopes of excavating forgotten, erased, and partial histories. I yearn to locate sites of emergence from which we can perhaps fabulate new and adjacent histories.

 

As a Chinese American artist, I dialogue with and challenge the affective racialized, gendered constructions that codify my body and identity as “harmless” and “non-threatening” within the hegemonic West. I am interested in how my presence has the capacity to disarrange systems of prediction based upon otherness and threat. I see slippery, chameleonic identity as a form of infiltration: a soft power reversal within hard architectures of power. I explore these subjects through a diverse range of media and strategies including film/video, installation, social interventions, sculpture, writing, and painting.

 

My most recent ongoing body of work, the foul lump in my throat, is a study in racial melancholia and racial grief, in examining how and why we fixate, even devour that which we are excluded from. The foul lump is a reference to John Yau’s poetic series “Genghis Chan: Private Eye” (1989), in which the Asian American narrator states: “A foul lump started making promises in my voice.” If we consider the foul lump to be a repulsive object that hijacks the Asian American subject’s racialized body for the vocalization of others, we must consider how the lump arrives in the first place.

 

In Freudian melancholia, melancholy is pathological, in which the ego wishes to incorporate the object into herself through devouring. In this case, it is my double’s (a Chinese cowgirl avatar) fixation on the American West, a mythological space she recognizes as biopolitically, historically, and thus, residually not belonging to her. My avatar presents herself in inauguration to actualize the psychological desire to transcend the boundaries of her imposed racialized and gendered identity as well as a political tool and catalytic agent for mapping the material consequences of her presence in territories and narratives she is excluded from.

 

Can “cowboy drag,” a form of racialized, gendered, affective drag, not unlike code- switching, an embodied passibility, provide a mimetic form of deception and self-preservation? What are the alluring possibilities that result from racial melancholia: self-contradicting negotiations with pleasure and pain, multiplicitous selves, identity and dis-identity formation?

 

The American West as a space of expansionist transition has provided much of the resonant images and rhetoric for “Americanness,” the American cultural imaginary, and biopolitical governmentality. The projected myth of the emptiness of the Old West imagines America as nation state as a palimpsest to be overwritten and repeatedly re-inscribed with exclusionary ways of inhabiting.

 

These histories that I have been reckoning with in the body of work are now being violently resurfaced. How do we grieve for complementary negative space and naturalized absences? The yellow body, historically rendered invisible, now experiences a hypervisibility. I have subsequently been re-evaluating the work and making new work as a call to response of the fluidity of the conditions outside of us. how to paint a rocking horse, filmed on March 30, is an immediate response to these resurfaced histories––a performative lecture during the stay-at-home order in Los Angeles, in which I perform auto-theory while painting a mechanized rocking horse, a metaphor for the precariously thin line the Chinese body teeters upon.

 

Education

2020 M.F.A. Art, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2016 B.A. Media Studies, poetry minor, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. magna cum laude, Dean’s List (every semester)

 

Residencies/Fellowships

2021 The Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York, New York (forthcoming)

2020 Contemporary Calgary Collider: In-Residence Artist Residency, Calgary, Canada

2019 Millay Colony Artists Residency, Austerlitz, NY

2019 ACRE Artist Residency Program, Steuben, WI

2015 Hearst Foundation Thesis Research Fellowship, Scripps College, Claremont, CA

 

Grants/Awards/Honors

2020 Lightning Fund, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

2020 Emergency Grant, Foundation for Contemporary Arts

2020 Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists, J. Paul Getty Trust and California Community Foundation

2020 L.A. Young Creatives Grant, Mission Asset Fund

2018-2020 Lillian Disney Scholarship, California Institute of the Arts

2016 Payton Watkins Media Studies Award, Scripps College

2015 Ruth George Poetry Prize, Scripps College

2015 Getty Marrow Multicultural Undergraduate Grant, Getty Foundation

2011 Certified Environmental Youth Ambassador, Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions/Screenings

2022 the foul lump in my throat, Pulpo Gallery, Murnau, Germany (forthcoming)

2021 the foul lump in my throat, 4th Ward Project Space, Chicago, IL (forthcoming)

2021 neither donkey nor horse, Office Space, Salt Lake City, UT (forthcoming)

2021 (self portraits as) neither donkey nor horse Hauser and Wirth Book and Printed Matter Lab, Los Angeles, CA (forthcoming)

2020 the foul lump in my throat, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2019 self-armature, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2018 presence/absence V, Marfa Film Festival, Marfa, TX

2017 presence/absence IV, Marfa Live Arts, Marfa, TX

2016 presence/absence III, Marfa Live Arts, Marfa, TX

 

Selected Group Exhibitions/Screenings

2022 Contemporary Calgary, Calgary, Canada (forthcoming)

2021 General Objects, Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL (forthcoming)

2020 Solitude, Arc Gallery, Chicago, IL

2020 Hindsight is 20/20, Cerritos College Art Gallery, Norwalk, CA

2020 Once more, with feeling…, New Wight Gallery, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

2020 Art.Response.Now, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ

2020 Time is Out of Joint, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, CA

2020 ARCHIVE MACHINES, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2020 Not Your Model Minority, Stamp Gallery, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

2020 Over the Structures 2020, Czong Institute for Contemporary Art (CICA) Museum, Gimpo, South Korea

2020 SoCal MFA ’20, Millard Sheets Art Center, Pomona, CA

2020 Reflections on Exile, Root Division, San Francisco, CA

2019 Heav’n Rescued Land, The Neon Heater, Findlay, OH

2019 Lie, Cheat, Steal, Kresge Gallery, Lyon College, Batesville, AR

2019 20/20, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2019 New Wight Biennial: Circadian Regions, New Wight Gallery, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

2019 Artist Statement: Master of Fine Arts, The Great Park Gallery, Irvine, CA

2019 And then there is California, Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica, CA

2019 SoCal MFA ’19, Millard Sheets Art Center, Pomona, CA

2018 this is it, is it not here, where it is, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2017 Trois Femme, Pure Joy, Marfa, TX

2017 Made for Marfa, Marfa Studio of Arts, Marfa, TX

 

Teaching

2020 Graduate Teaching Assistant for Cauleen Smith, AART 664, Sound and Video in Space, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2019 Graduate Teaching Assistant for Cauleen Smith, AART 201, Post Foundation Seminar, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2016-18 Teaching Artist, Marfa Studio of Arts, Marfa, TX

2015 Teaching Mentor, Venice Arts, Venice, CA

 

Lectures/Panels/Presentations

2021 Visiting Artist Lecturer, CAIL101, Connections Through Color and Design, Otis College

2021 Visiting Artist Lecturer, AART621, Performing Life, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2020 Visiting Artist Lecturer, MS 190 JT, Senior Seminar in Media Studies, Scripps College, Claremont, CA

2020 Panelist, “Once More, With Feeling… OUTSIDE,” University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

2020 Visiting Artist Lecturer, Generative Drift: Introduction to Alternative Studio, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

2020 Host and Curator, “hyper(in)visibility,” Vancouver Art Gallery and Contemporary Calgary, Calgary, Canada