Meet the Artist
My work is inspired by the ancient Chinese cosmography, Shanhaijing, which I reinterpret through a feminist, diasporic lens. Centering around a female re-imagining of the mythological headless deity, Xingtian, as a symbol of resistance, the world created within these images exists as an imaginary realm where the liminal becomes a space of alternative existence. As a Chinese-American woman, I have undertaken the project of world-building as a way to create a space where I belong, and to make sense of the complex, often contradictory, realities of existing between cultures. Drawing upon the fantasy and humour inherent in self-making within diasporic societies, my work reveals the fluid nature of identity as inherited stories and traditions continually evolve.
I am interested in the ways we perceive the world around us, both physically and conceptually. In an artist talk, Torkwase Dyson referred to perspective as ‘a Western construction of visualizing space.’ This ‘Western construction’ operates as a tool of domination by dismissing other modes of perception as being inaccurate or untrue. Yet by the same token, can alternative ways of visualizing space be transformed into pathways for liberation? In my work, I employ flatness and negative space as strategies of spatial contestation. I see flatness as an Eastern artistic convention which counters the Western use of perspective. I am also drawn to the way negative space functions as an opening, a threshold to cross over and enter other layers of the image. These moments of transformation, when absence becomes embodied, reflect how in-betweenness can be expansive, rather than limiting.
Junli Song is a Chinese American artist from Chicago, but has lived in South Korea, England, Italy, and South Africa. She is currently pursuing an MFA in printmaking at the University of Arkansas. With a BA in economics and international development and an MA in children’s book illustration, Song’s work explores cultural and social complexities through visual narratives.