Al Wong

Fellow: Awarded 1986

Field of Study: Film

Competition: US & Canada

I am a native San Franciscan artist and have spent the past forty years making art in a variety of mediums. Painting has always been a central element in my work because of the direct nature of working with the materials. My career has developed from my early years as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute where I earned my Master of Fine Art degree, to serving as an Art Professor over the past thirty years at several universities and colleges, including the San Francisco Art Institute, the California State University system, and Mills College. I have shown at exhibition venues such as the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the New Museum. My work has toured nationally and internationally, including in Europe, South America, and Japan, and representing the United States at the Osaka, Japan, Triennale in 2001. In addition to my Guggenheim Fellowship, among the honors and awards I've received are an American Film Institute Grant in 1975, an NEA grant in 1983, a California Arts Council Grant in 1990, and a Flintridge Foundation Visual Artist Award in 1997. The most recent exhibitions of my work include a May 2013 screening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and participation in a November 2013 group show at Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, entitled Solid Concept.

In looking at my work, I would best describe it as a visual expression of the inner connectedness of perceived opposites. My work involves the use of negative and positive and transparency. Past bodies of work have brought the foreground and the background planes of the sculpture or installation into one interconnected space. Currently, my work involves painting shapes on a variety of surfaces that interrelate with the wall so that the wall becomes an integrated part of the work as opposed to the piece passively hanging on the wall. A new shape emerges as a result of the spatial arrangements. In essence, my work demonstrates such relationships as light and dark, negative and positive, and emptiness and solidity. These relationships seem to imply differences at first glance, but because they are entirely interdependent, they reflect our interdependent existence even though we may have the illusion that we are separate. This implies that there is a deeper harmony in our environment that we may often overlook. It is in these opposing relationships that I find the truest expression of reality. In this way, my goal is to encourage the community that views my work to look at the presence of art in a different way, a kind of challenge to ordinary perception. Because my work does not involve language or culturally constructed notions, there is a universality in my work that can translate to diverse audiences.
 

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