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Pots & Pickles: Ying Ye at the Intersection of Food, Identity, and Culture

There is no doubt that collaboration and creativity are intertwined.

For her most recent group show Relics | Remnants at the Farmington Valley Arts Center (FVAC) with fellow Artist-in-Residence Trae Brooks, multidisciplinary artist Ying Ye not only found inspiration in Brooks’ work (and vice versa), but she relied on the help of her family, friends, and professors.

Speak from the Ground, Video Installation, Clay on Canvas and Mixed
Mediums, Light filter, Media Player, Terracotta, and Electoral Cores.

Ye commented about how it’s rare to see a six-month program like their Artist-in-Residence program. The mere space/facility sharing the artists experience gives them the additional advantage of skill-sharing and mentorship across disciplines and career-levels. As an alumna of Hartford Art School with degrees in both Painting and Sculpture, she has found a considerable amount of peace in another discipline: Ceramics.

Spouts, Widow Installation, Brown Clay, Red Pepper, Curry, Black Pepper,
Rice flour, Isomalt, Wood power, and Porcelain.

The availability of facilities at FVAC allowed Ye to use her imagination and truly create multidisciplinary yet installations. She incorporated her art school foundation with new Ceramic work in her installations, Eating Pickles Together in the Reproduction of the Home and Speak from the Ground as part of Relics | Remnants. By mixing clay with modeling paste to create a canvas “lip,” Ye mimicked the crack in a clay pot. She also included micro-installations in the gallery windows using tiny pots she made in the FVAC ceramic studio. 

Ye’s statement about the Chinese government-mandated demolition relocation is illustrated in Speak from the Ground. The vessel, housing a small screen video of Ye forming bubbles under water (mimicking the fermentation process) is meant to preserve tradition, culture, and identity within the walls that are cracking and falling down around it.

Ying Ye, interior of Speak from the Ground

Apart from the political, Ye’s work is also very much about language, communication, and embodiment. Ye is inspired by her own experience as a Chinese immigrant, working in her family’s restaurant. For this reason, she is very attuned to taste and smell, which is why her other installation in this show centered around the act of sharing a meal.

While her father provided a few dishes, it was mostly Ye who prepared different fermented dishes for reception guests to enjoy as part of the installation. The relationship between food and identity is prevalent throughout Ye’s life, and it was brought to the forefront in this show.

Ye has actively continued to pursue this relationship in her work, picking up catering shifts for inspiration and serving as a Sculpture technician at her alma mater. Ye has plans to apply for other residencies, internships, and eventually grad school.

(photography: Chris Herrera)

Eating Pickles Together in the Reproduction of the Home, Home Installation,
Fermentation Pot Collaboration with Erika Novak and Drew Darley, Table, Mats, Broad-
leaved Epiphyllum, Dry Flowers, Lamp, Curtain, Painting Based on the Ye Family
Photograph, Pickles, Bowls from Ye’s home, Chopsticks, Tea Sets, Serving Wares.

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