Project Room

Unspoken Word

Cecile Chong

February 25—March 20, 2010

In her intricately designed painted assemblages, Cecile Chong creates rich, imaginative landscapes that recall the fantastical foreign worlds frequently found in children’s books. Drawing on her own mixed cultural heritage, Chong’s pictorial vignettes speak to notions of cultural identity and assimilation in the age of globalization. Chong use of encaustic enhances the notion of cultural ambiguity. Encaustic is a painting process that involves using pigments mixed with hot wax that are typically burned in as an inlay. This process and medium is typically used in ceramics, and Chong’s kimono-clad figures are reminiscent of those depicted on Chinese porcelain and in Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints–products that began to appear en masse in Europe, and then America, in the 19th century. Chong’s use of encaustic adds a sculptural quality to her dense paintings, and suggests the possibility that ominous elements lay beneath layers of wax.