Artist based in San Francisco, CA
Kacy Jung, Portrait of the artist. Photo by Drew Altizer, Courtesy of Jonathan Carver Moore Gallery
Tell us about yourself, what's your background?
I am a Taiwanese artist based in SF, CA, USA.
Growing up, I was always drawn to art (movies, music, literature, museums, etc). Despite this, my social circle does not encourage children to pursue art over practical disciplines (STEM). Art is often considered a hobby in many families.
Wring My Tears Out, 18”(w) by 14”(h) by 10”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
Being trained as a biomedical scientist, I had never had any experience with "making art" before I moved to North Carolina for my Ph.D. studies. Being away from my friends and family in Taiwan made me think hard about my future and what kind of life I wanted for myself. Those days, I escaped reality by taking pictures with my iPhone while taking long walks. Being present in the moments with my phone gave me great comfort.
Catch Me from the Sky, 11”(w) by 18”(h) by 9”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
I would post those pictures on my social media. My pictures led me to Kimowan Metchewais, an art professor at UNC-CH. He inspired me to take photography continuing education courses.
I started part-time wedding photography. Things went well, but my sense of self remains hazy. It was my instinct that told me to pursue my MFA. I graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with an emphasis on photography. Ever since, I have continued to create and think about art daily.
Tear Asunder, 10”(w) by 13”(h) by 9”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
"I want to challenge the manipulative nature of so-called "social norms" that oppress individuals in revealing, exploring, and discovering their true selves, and address the different stages in the process of empowering, healing, and redefining my identity for myself rather than by “external expectations”."
Make Me Comply, 13”(w) by 16”(h) by 9”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I am currently in the incubation phase after my solo show "Weight of Souls" earlier this year in San Francisco.
The body of work in my solo exhibition was my response to the societal pressure I received as an Asian immigrant female artist and a former scientist, under our capitalist regime. Each of the works, which I refer to as photo sculptures, is composed of a self-portrait on printable chiffon fabric with life-casted plaster hands.
Blind My Eyes, 14”(w) by 17”(h) by 8”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
I see my mixed-medium sculpture as a metaphor for the negotiation between society and individuals.
I want to challenge the manipulative nature of so-called "social norms" that oppress individuals in revealing, exploring, and discovering their true selves, and address the different stages in the process of empowering, healing, and redefining my identity for myself rather than by “external expectations”.
I want to push this idea beyond myself by collaborating with other artists, especially outsider artists, and BIPOC women artists.
Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in a creative practice. What do you do for inspiration?
I am a huge fan of Japanese manga artists or surrealist artists, such as Junji Ito and Salvador Dalí. I often visit their works and draw inspiration from them. I also observe and pay extra attention to the people around me-- their emotions and physical features. I am introverted and prefer to express myself mainly through my art. Due to all these reasons, I constantly have ideas and urges that I feel compelled to bring to life in the real world.
Life-casted plaster hands waiting to dry
Describe your practice and process. Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?
I photograph my subjects, usually self-portraits, and then print them onto printable fabric. The fabric is coated with resin or acrylic pouring medium before I assemble them into a sculpture.
I sketch a lot. I pay a lot of attention to everything around me and put them into the back of my head. Most of my ideas come from my dreams. During my incubation time, I usually wake up before my alarm and am full of ideas to sketch if I had inspiring dreams.
Current home studio view (2022-2023)
How do you make your work, does it start with a sketch?
I sketch a lot and my work does start with sketches. However, the beauty of making sculptures that I make is that the process is very intuitive. Usually, I start with a sketch, but then it ends up with 3-5 different sculptures because of all the new ideas or "mistakes" that happen during the process.
I don't want to label my style yet because I think it would limit my ability to evolve.
As for how I arrived at it, I started as a photographer and quickly realized that I don't like regular photo papers and 2D prints. They are too flat for my taste. So I started to seek alternative materials and fell in love with printable fabric. They are soft and airy. They come in a variety of textures and have a unique history that is connected with fashion, craftsmanship, and feminism.
Do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?
I usually plan what I want to do in my studio before I go there. I like to start my work in my studio after I have my sweet, usually, it’s some simple bakery items. Then I will turn on my meditation playlist and start with the most exciting thing on my list.
Lip mold and plaster, Detail of work in progress
Who are your biggest influences?
Robert Mapplethorpe for embracing his sexuality and elevating BDSM photography into fine art.
Letha Wilson for her material experimentation. She is known for combining photography and sculpture to create works that expand their visual and physical dimensions.
David Ireland for his famous quote, “You can’t make art by making art”.
Detail of work in progress
Are there books or films that are an important source of inspiration?
Critical theories appeal to me conceptually. They help me make sense of myself and contextualize my thoughts. I am that kind of artist I prefer to know why I am making it before I start to make it. Karl Marx’s and Louis Althusser’s essays are some readings I go back to often.
Visually, graphic novels by Japanese manga artists, such as Junji Ito, are an important source of inspiration.
Hold My Tongue, 7”(w) by 25”(h) by 9”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
How will Innovate Grant contribute to your practice?
It made my day when I saw the “Congrats! Innovate Grant Winner” in my email box.
Being an artist can be daunting— the uncertainty and self-doubt that accompany not following a more traditional career path.
Receiving this Innovate Grant gives me the necessary financial resources and confidence to continue exporting my art, thank you so much for the opportunity.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Ask yourself “what if” (from a talk given during our orientation week at SFAI) and push yourself “be weirder” (from my photography professor Lindsey White).
Gouge Me in The Eyes, 11”(w) by 16”(h) by 10”(d), 2023, Printable fabric, acrylic pouring medium, plaster, gold powder, and resin
What is the best advice you would give to other artists?
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Experiment a lot and challenge yourself a lot.