The Heroine’s Journey of Holly Wong

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

I like the ephemeral quality of the materials I use such as polyester tulle, vegetable netting and shredded twine. I also like the way that I use the sewing machine as a kind of drawing tool with the sewing line traveling throughout the work.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Spending time in my art studio with my husband, drinking a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.

What is my greatest fear?

That I will be injured or become ill and not be able to complete all the projects that I can see in my mind. Also, that my loved ones will become ill or die.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

The tendency to make bad decisions sometimes because I don’t have enough self-confidence or self-knowledge.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

Judy Pfaff, Ursula von Rydingsvard, El Anatsui, and Janet Echelman are just a few of the many artists I admire.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I drink an instant Espressso mix that is super quick to make with steamed milk. It isn’t expensive but it tastes really luxurious. I also love Japanese origami paper and am somewhat of a fabric hoarder.

On what occasion would I lie?

I would lie if the telling the truth would really not help the person and would only do more harm than good.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

There is a way in which the colors are diffuse and variegated throughout the work; that can be a good thing but sometimes it can just look confusing and muddled. I have to reign myself in because sometimes less is more.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

I am currently doing an installation at the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh, North Carolina for the next 10 days. I am incredibly happy because I am 100% focused on the completion of this project which is a great feeling.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would stop regretting the past or second-guessing my choices. They are what make me who I am now and it is something to feel good about regardless of how I managed to get here.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

When people tell me that my work brings them a sense of peace or time of reflection, I feel especially good. It means I have contributed in some small way to people’s sense of wellness with my art work.

Where would I most like to live?

San Francisco which is where I live now. It is a balance of being a beautiful city with so much cultural and social offerings. New York City is a very, very close runner up and is the place I most love to visit.

What is my most treasured possession?

Sentimental photos I have taken of loved ones over the years capturing their joy and capacity for life. Things change and people pass away but these images always remain with me.

What is my most marked characteristic?

My frizzy hair. I have spent most of my life disliking my hair, wishing it was thicker, more wavy, etc. I have come to a place where I celebrate it because my frizzy hair much resembles the shredded twine and gossamer fabric that I work with.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

My favorite spot in San Francisco is near the Cliff House where the cypress trees are. They are so majestic rising up in front of the ocean. Really spectacular.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

Emperor’s Taste is a small and very traditional Chinese restaurant in San Francisco frequented by the locals. It is the “go to” place for me and my husband. He totally knows what to order and they serve very good oolong tea typically with each meal.

What books influenced my life and how?

Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. These are master works about Zen Buddhism. They taught me to entirely reconsider the direction of my life and to commit my time to develop what I am passionate about.

Who are my favorite writers?

Virginia Woolf and Ralph Ellison are a couple of them.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Bill Evans “Waltz for Debbie”

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Kambei, the main character in Akiro Kurosawa’s 7th Samurai. While this is indeed a film, it is a work of fiction and is one of the most compelling films I have ever seen about leadership.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

James Dilley, MD is a hero of mine. He is Executive Director of the UCSF Alliance Health Project and was one of the first psychiatrists to treat mental health issues in those living with HIV and AIDS. At the height of the AIDS crisis, he selflessly cared for these patients because it was simply the right thing to do and did not give in to the fear and stigma around him.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Red Beard by Akiro Kurosawa. This film is transformative and really teaches what it means to have a career in public health.

What role plays art in my life and work?

Art is literally the mechanism that uplifts me every day. I constantly view all kinds of art on social media, read art criticism voraciously and visit museums and galleries whenever I can. Art is a constant reminder of the goodness in the human spirit and the power of art to transform suffering.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My husband for sure. He is my greatest champion, gives me sage advice and I can only credit him for so much of the beautiful things in life that I have had the privilege to experience.

Whom would I like to work with in 2018?

If I could work with someone on a project, I would say that New York-based Christina Massey is someone I would love to collaborate with. She is an amazing artist and has also done so much to advance the careers of other women artists.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2018? Esperanza Cortes, Lina Puerta, and Millicent Young are just a few.

What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on?

I am preparing for a large installation next year at the Evanston Art Center. I am starting to experiment with transparent colored plastic film and really enjoy the intense quality of the color.

Where can you see me or my work in 2018?

Right now, I am exhibiting in two places:

My installation “Mind/Forest” is on exhibit at the Visual Art Center in Raleigh, North Carolina from August 22nd – October 6th. Also, I am exhibiting in a group show titled “What Knot” at the Richmond Art Center in Richmond, California from September 11th – November 16th.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

When you are doing something you love, there is no desire to stop. There is no “daily grind” as it were and thus nothing to retire from.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

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