stephanie mei huang's latest works - an analysis

September 13, 2022
green requiem for my self iii, 2022
stephanie mei huang, green requiem for my self iii, 2022
On a closer look at stephanie mei hunag’s recent work "green requiem for my self iii" from 2022, the viewer encounters undefinable feelings that leaves one speechless. Rightly so, since huang has chosen a strongly symbolic depiction of their avatar "Stirrup Steph", which is now in the final stage of its development.
The intention and the message hidden in their painting only become clear after a rigorous examination of the subject of huang’s exhibition “how to hobble a young horse” – which materializes and makes power play visible, but also the related oppression, domination, and  marginalization within the society. All these subjects are thematized in this painting and form a convolute of feelings that make the viewer not only curious but sensitive and ultimately spur one on to a deep reflection.
One recognizes in this monumental painting the artist, who presents themself simultaneously in the form of two personalities: a liberator and a captive. 
The liberator is dressed in typical cowboy garments, enclosed in shades of ocher and burgundy, and looks directly at the viewer - as if awaiting confirmation or permission for cutting the barbed wire. 


However, the complexity of this composition is revealed when looking at the centaur: the naturalistically painted hybrid creature is seen in a tense and battle-ready pose, holding a weapon in its right hand - at the same time, its left fist tightens as a sign of preparation to fight. The centaur, symbolically standing for impetuosity, forms the key element in this composition. It represents Stirrup Steph's metamorphosis - from a captive to a soon-to-be liberated character, from helplessness to autonomy, from impostor to a mythological creature, and from a “damsel” to a threatening centaur.
huang envisions themselves as a powerful, magical, and fantastic creature, that has the power to change the course of things: the tamed horse became a strong, sublime, and independent being, capable of defending itself and even taming or oppressing others.
The color spectrum consists of vivid emerald and turquoise green – nuances understood as a source of power, revival, and joy. This painting possibly celebrates the association with overcoming an obstacle and opens the door to a new avatar of stephanie.
Reminiscences from a time of oppression can also be found in four different horse bits – a series from 2022 called “copper elegy i-iv”. They are made of stainless steel with copper alloy and are carefully decorated with bows and silk appliqués. These bits were part of the horse tack, used by the rider to control the horse's head. huang added to them pictorial representations of unicorns, free and winged horses, painted on emerald-green silk. 
The close relationship between the oppressed and dominant is evident in these works, but also in "rope elegy" from 2022 – a hobble used for taming calves. These shackles were also used in huang’s video demonstration "how to hobble a young horse" from 2022 - but in this phase of their avatar, the shackles become memories of a complex condition.
huang focuses on these bits and hobbles as objects of oppression and explores the multiple ways in which they are now received. Through this created and reorganized constellation, these elements transcend their use and the related understanding and become instruments that reveal their symbolic value: the liberation of the captive, in this case, the hobbled horse, and the development of a newborn character.
These works represent the final stage of the avatar Stirrup Steph. The intermingling of fantastic beings, the redefinition of characters, and the chromatic change in huang's works point to the creation of a new avatar. 
Text by Cezara-Maria Casian