Woman Crush Wednesday: Wenying Liu
Project: Artists and Their Art
Interview by Akshit Bhardwaj
Can you talk about what inspired you to create the series " Artists and their art”?
While I was doing my project the “Existence” in 2015, I talked to a lot of senior artists to find out their sense of the meaning of existence for them. As it turned out the idea for this project “Artists and Their Arts” grew out of those discussions.
What was your favorite part of shooting this series? Did you walk away with any new insights?
It has been such a great honor to be acquainted with and work together with these senior Bay Area artists on this project. My favorite part of shooting this series is spent hours and hours talking and chatting with those artists, being inspired by their story. All of my subjects are in their 60’s or older, full of wisdom and life experience. Each of them is almost like a good story or a great book. I have been so blessed to know them and be able to become their friend. They are my mentors, and I have learned a lot from each through this project. I have learned that there is no good or bad art. The only difference depends on how you view various types of art being created in this region. I have learned that Art is a process of continuous trimming in our whole life. I have learned that Art is a way of living, not just the outcome. I have learned that Art is something that I should cherish and enjoy for my whole life. I have learned that Art is something that has required me to be calm and relaxed if I am to do my best work.
What was your process of casting cast your models for this series?
I asked for help from my teachers to introduce to me some of their artist friends, and in the meantime, I also found a “Senior artist in Bay Area” meet up group. We have 73 members as of now. We meet once a month to share artists' work. I also joined an above 80 years old artist critique group in Atherton. I am trying to reach and make as many senior friends as I can. I found Silicon Valley open studio artist directory, which has around 400 artists. I went to their website to research which artists’ work interested me and contacted each of them one by one. It was quite a fantastic way to start my project. How to work closely with each artist and win their full support and cooperation has also been another challenge for me. I usually began with an appointment at a café, and I would show them some previous work at the first meeting so that they could get a basic understanding of my style and decide whether to work with me on the project or not. Then we set up another appointment either at their studios or homes. Most of the time, they showed me their work at this second meeting, such as books, videos or their website to let me gain a further understanding of them and their work. Some even showed me around their studios. We commonly exchanged some ideas on how we might also take photos and their views on art. In most cases, I would spend about two to three weeks working on the details of a shoot before photographing each artist. We met twice before starting the shoot; we then knew what we will be doing.
There is a melancholic mood that is hard to ignore to the photos, how did you go about creating this mood?
Working closely with the artists and listening to their life stories, I captured their personalities in an environment emblematic of my understanding about their narratives. A large depth of field helped equally balance the artists with their art; high contrast and spotlighting enhanced a dramatic and mysterious effect; and coordinating the color and texture of the artists’ outfits with their artworks all reinforced each artist’s unique narrative.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach a one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
I would not say “teach.” I would rather say “share,” if I have an opportunity. I could share the story how I approach and make the art.
What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
The last film I watched that inspired me was “Blow Up” by Michelangelo.
What song do you play the most in your music library?
I like the musical, “Phantom of the Opera.” It is on top of my list.
How do you take your coffee?
I like tea more.