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Artist Holly Wong


Photo credit: Al Wong


Holly Wong earned her MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, and her studio practice can be most readily described as interdisciplinary. Though drawing and sewing-based, she utilizes line, shape, and pattern as a jumping off point to create immersive environments. In the case of her sculptural installations, the immersion is quite literal, as they may fill a room or be large enough for viewers to move around inside of them. With Wong’s smaller wall-based assemblages, she creates intimate worlds with her sewing and drawing lines.


Photo Credit: Aaron Wojack


Holly Wong is exhibiting her new large-scale installation “Guardian of the Spirits” as a part of the “THEORY FORWARD: Shape, Line, Color, Surface / Texture” exhibition curated by James Vogel at O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, in Mill Valley, California.


In approaching the creation of “Guardian of the Spirits” Wong was deeply inspired by the beautiful trees on the property of O'Hanlon Center for the Arts and the ways in which the light moved through the branches and flickered on the ground below. She decided to create an installation that resembled the transcendent light conditions of the environment by using silk and polyester organza, cellophane, dichroic film, vinyl tablecloth and scanned images of her paintings and drawings. Sewing was employed as a form of expansive drawing and collage which combines and suspends transparent elements in space.


"Guardian of the Spirits" is about the growth and flowering of the feminist body, inspired by nature, reborn and reclaimed by the constant repair of the spirit. The sewing process itself is about repurposing and making a whole from disparate parts. This 22-foot installation is an expression of that wholeness; a refusal to live small in the confinement of gender as dictated by society.



Photo credit: Al Wong


Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the arts.


I was born in North Miami Beach, Florida and spent my childhood years there. My earliest art experiences were at magnet art school programs, and I graduated from the New World School of the Arts high school in 1989. While Miami is a very beautiful and diverse place, I was very attracted to the West Coast and moved there permanently where I completed my BFA and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995. My study area was in New Genres which for me, ended up being an interdisciplinary practice incorporating painting, drawing, fiber art and installation.


What kind of work are you currently making?


Currently, I am focused on two formats in my work which are large scale installations and wall-based mixed media assemblages. My installations are primarily suspended works made of a variety of light reflective materials and collaged drawings that I construct using a sewing machine. “Guardian of the Spirits” is the most recent example of this. This piece is about the growth and flowering of the feminist body, inspired by nature, reborn and reclaimed by the constant repair of the spirit. The sewing process itself is about repurposing and making a whole from disparate parts. This 22-foot installation is an expression of that wholeness; a refusal to live small in the confinement of gender as dictated by society. I also create assemblages on the wall that combine fabric and drawing elements, and paintings and drawings mounted on panel in a form of collage practice.


What is a day like in the studio for you?


Like many artists, I have a full time “day job” and so my studio practice begins daily at 2:00am before I go to work. I learned this unusual schedule while working as a clinical scheduler in a hospital emergency department. I met many residents there that were working the swing and graveyard shifts and I realized I could squeeze out some studio practice in my day if I got up early enough. Using this approach, I get in about 25 hours of studio work per week though occasionally some admin activities get mixed in there. I try my best to block out my time in those early morning hours to dedicated creative time. It's dark, the house is quiet and it’s a great time to focus. I do struggle with some daytime sleepiness and live on coffee (like those medical residents!)


What are you looking at right now and/or reading?


I am reading “Why I Make Art” by Brian Alfred and “Art/Work” by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber. They are both amazing books in different ways because they talk about artmaking from a perspective on the internal creative life but also what is happening outside the studio. While it’s hard to balance these kinds of things, the internal and external focus is necessary. In terms of art, I have been really admiring Guadalupe Maravilla and Sonia Gomes lately. Their work inspires me so deeply because of both the spiritual aspects of the making and the boundary spanning practice which integrates fiber and traditional arts.


Where can we find more of your work?


You can visit my website at https://hollywongart.com and I can be found on social media at @hollywongart. I currently am showing “Guardian of the Spirits” at O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, California as part of the “Theory Forward” exhibition through August 31st. I will also be showing a collaborative project titled “Temple Steps” with my husband, artist Al Wong, as part of the “Meeting of Makers/Merging of Space” show at Jack Olson Gallery at Northern Illinois University, opening August 29th.


Photo credit: Al Wong

Photo Credit: Aaron Wojack

Photo Credit: Aaron Wojack

Photo Credit: Aaron Wojack

Photo Credit: Aaron Wojack

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