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What Americans Can Learn About People From Minority Cultures

Wen-Hao Tien's sculpture exposes perspectives that challenge and enrich our multicultural experience

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published Jul 25, 2023

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Collection

This Curation is part of Be the Change.

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In Other Eyes

Above: Artist Wen-hao Tien installing In Other Eyes in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, August 2023.

 

How do we respect and appreciate our diversity?

 

TAKE ACTION:

Support ethnic groups’ activities in your community. Participate in cultural programs with curiosity and openness. Respect others’ unique way of expression and listen kindly. Have dinner with your neighbors who have a special recipe from home!

 

ARTIST STATEMENT:

This sculpture has two sides: one side is an open book, and the other is a forest. This work celebrates and justifies the importance of players in our multi-cultural and multi-lingual society. The heart of this project is a question to our multi-lingual young citizens “What should the Americans appreciate people from your culture?” Their answer, in their language and in their handwriting, will be the content of this sculpture. Another critical element of this sculpture is several periscopes. The lens inside each periscope is engraved with the answer to the same question but from the minorities of the minority in our community. What is it like to look at the world through their words? Other Eyes asks the viewers to shift their perspectives to relate to the realities of others, to look at the world through scopes that may distort a familiar view, but they find a new reality within in return. A QR code on the sculpture will direct viewers to a website page where they can access the translation of these answers, information about the collaborating civic societies, and research and artistic process materials.

Materials: Galvanized steel, laser engraved marine plywood, PVC pipe, acrylic lens, and paint

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Born and raised in Taiwan, Wen-hao Tien has been residing alone on the banks of the Charles River, Massachusetts since 1996. As an interdisciplinary artist, her career includes teaching, speaking, and community services. Wen-hao’s practice is rooted in her curiosity about self-expression and civic engagement in multicultural societies. Her academic preparations span the fields of biomedical sciences, public health, humanities, and visual art. Besides her studio practices, she is respected for her role in building interdisciplinary Asia Studies communities at Harvard University and Boston University. Her recent solo exhibitions “Weed Out,” “Home on Our Backs,” “It Speaks for Itself,” and “I Love Your Grammatical Errors” (forthcoming in April 2023) experiment on the interplay between art exhibitions, visual history, and public humanities. Wen-hao teaches at the Art and Design Department of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and at the Boston University Department of World Languages and Literatures. As the 2020 Artist-in-Residence at Boston’s Pao Art Center, she produced a body of work during a pivotal time in Asian American civic movements in Boston Chinatown’s local history. Her work is exhibited frequently in the Northeast, presented at the Boston Sculptors Gallery where she is a member, and supported by the generosity of grants. Wen-hao’s project, Weed Out, is featured in a new book, Crossing Boundaries & Confounding Identity: Chinese Women in Literature, Art, and Film, SUNY Press 2023.

 

Learn more about Be the Change.

 

👁️ Look above to watch 4 Questions with Be the Change Global Ambassador and CEO of Avodah Cheryl Cook, former President of American Jewish World Service and Co-Chair of Be the Change Global Ambassadors Ruth Messinger, and artist Wen-hao Tien. 

Be the Change Walking Tour: Wen-hao Tien

(3 min) Listen to Wen-hao Tien describe her piece for the Be the Change Walking Tour.

 

LOCATION: 

Located across from Tasty Burger.

 

Find it in the Fenway! Click here to see the full Be the Change Boston 2023 map.

 

NEXT UP:

Free to Learn by Ruth K. Henry

Searching for Home by Chanel Thervil

Wishing Well by Cicely Carew

The Power of the Vote by Dana Woulfe

Transcending Borders by Julia Csekö

I Am My Sister’s Keeper by Caron Tabb

 

👁️ Look above to watch 4 Questions with Be the Change Global Ambassador and CEO of Avodah Cheryl Cook, former President of American Jewish World Service and Co-Chair of Be the Change Global Ambassadors Ruth Messinger, and artist Wen-hao Tien. 

In Other Eyes

(3 min) “How do we better understand each other?” Artist Wen-hao Tien talks with former President and CEO of American Jewish World Service Ruth Messinger and Be the Change Global Ambassador and CEO of Avodah Cheryl Cook about the inspiration behind her piece for Be the Change Boston 2023.

Meet the Artist

(4 min) Wen-hao Tien discusses her approach as a conceptual artist in culture studies and gives an up-close look at the messages on In Other Eyes.

Importance of Perspective

(5 min) Be the Change Global Ambassador and CEO of Avodah Cheryl Cook discusses the role of language in social activism and Jewish tradition with In Other Eyes Artist Wen-hao Tien and former President and CEO of American Jewish World Service Ruth Messinger.

Local Action Global Impact

(4 min) Artist Wen-hao Tien talks about the element of “shock” in public art, being an outsider, and cultural exposure with former President and CEO of American Jewish World Service Ruth Messinger and Be the Change Global Ambassador and CEO of Avodah Cheryl Cook.

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JArts’ mission is to curate, celebrate, and build community around the diverse world of Jewish arts, culture, and creative expression. Our vision is of a more connected, engaged, and tolerant world inspired by Jewish arts and culture. Learn more at jartsboston.org.

Reflections

1

How do the juxtaposition of an open book and a forest in the sculpture symbolically represent the diversity and richness of our multi-cultural and multi-lingual society? What emotions or thoughts does this combination evoke in you?

2

Reflecting on the idea of "In Other Eyes," describe an experience when you were encouraged to shift your perspective and look at the world through someone else's point of view. How did this experience change your understanding or perception of a particular issue?

3

The use of multiple languages and handwriting styles in the sculpture signifies the voices of multi-lingual young citizens and the communities they are a part of. How do you think this inclusion enhances the artwork's message of cultural appreciation? How can this art installation promote a sense of unity and understanding among diverse communities?

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