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  • Assimilation by Yu-Wen Wu
  • Yu-Wen Wu
    Assimilation, 2016
    Tea leaves, New England leaf specimens, gold gilding, gold leaf, specimen pins
    40 x 60"
    Gift of Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

    Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Yu-Wen Wu earned a BS from Brown University before attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She was the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural/ NEA Grant for Painting, 1989, 1998, 2004 and the Traveling Scholars Award, Fifth Year Competition, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 1989. Her work has been exhibited throughout New England and is included in major collections.

    Through her imagery, Wu shares her own experiences with immigration and other culturally specific events, presenting them as a series of natural occurrences not unlike a migrating bird or passing cloud.

    The Accumulation of Dreams
    Not All Alike andAssimilation are part of a body of work entitled The Accumulation of Dreams, a visual discussion of immigration through the lens of the Chinese experience.

    The gilded tea leaves in Not All Alike symbolize xenophobic reactions to immigrants. Assimilation continues the series with its reference to identity and adaptation. Here tea leaves are “grafted” with New England plant leaves- rhododendron PJM, azalea, inkberry, rounded holly, and maple stems. The specimens are then dried and covered with multiple layers of gold gilding, many with gold leaf.

    "The tea was gathered by my mom and her Taiwanese community in New Jersey. It became a wonderful source of story sharing about departure, arrival, and assimilation of immigrants. Tea is a cultural signifier of Asian tradition and a valuable commodity. I've gilded them in gold referencing the streets paved in gold and the California gold rush - the American dream."