HomeBad Ass AsiansArtist Yuri Yuan’s solo show symbolizes loneliness of immigration

Artist Yuri Yuan’s solo show symbolizes loneliness of immigration

By Erin Chew

Pieces of art are figurative compositions that are tinged with touches of emotions, feelings and challenges the distinction between dream and reality. It only takes one action, one person’s traits and/or a feeling to be inspired – and that is the basis of the artwork by Yuri Yuan – a Chinese American artist who was born in China and grew up in both Singapore and the US.

An open window looks out into nature
Photo by Erin Chew

Currently based in New York City, Yuan’s artwork reflects her life and journey as an international citizen- neither belonging here nor there, and the loneliness that comes with it. Yuan discusses that she has benefitted from living in different countries, but still aches as a perpetual immigrant. All these deep and layered feelings are currently exhibited in Yuan’s new art exhibition titled A Thousand Ships at Make Room, Los Angeles.

“My exhibition is centralized around the theme of loneliness and anticipation,” Yuan said during an interview with AsAmNews. “It is about anticipating someone, somewhere and the distance between these things that the person yearns for. Like for me, I show in my pieces that I yearn to see my family and those I care about in Singapore and China – I haven’t been back for a number of years and the distance saddens me. It is really a miss mash of all my experiences culminated in a moment of time.”

Yuri Yuan stands in front of an art piece of a seascape
Yuri Yuan. Photo from Make Room

Becoming a successful artist is no easy feat, particularly if coming from an Asian background. Telling Asian parents that your career goal in life is to paint is not something accepted lightly. But for Yuan, this was not the case. Her father noticed her talents at a young age and embraced this by taking her to art classes. This was the same with her teachers and educators throughout her child and adulthood. Yuan states that she has been lucky and blessed that her family didn’t fall into the stereotype but encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

“Despite stereotypes, my father was and is my biggest support. It was he who encouraged me and ensured that I had ample opportunities to learn my craft. It is funny because where I got support from my family, it was some of my friends who were not supportive and fell into the stereotype that painting art equals to earning no income. Maybe because they came from parents who saw art as a career in that way that they told me if I pursued it, I would become homeless. In any case, being an artist is my dream and job, and this is something I will pursue till the end”, Yuan passionately discussed.

Two people rest behind a rock on the beach
Photo by Erin Chew.

For Yuan, one of her major hopes is that those who go see her exhibition at Make Room, will understand some of her deep feelings and will be able to figuratively construct their own stories based on her art. Painting is a great way of self-expression- opening one’s self to the world. Yuan’s work shows her deep seeded emotions and her vulnerabilities and this is what makes it quite powerful.

“I want my paintings to function as a space for people who check out my art to project their own lives and stories rather than to internalize their emotions. I hope they will be able to understand who I am as a person and what my origin story is all about – pain and love. I think the feelings of loneliness, pain and love resonates with all audiences as they are all universal feelings that transcends nationality, ethnicity, race and gender because it is all about the human experience”.

You can check out Yuri Yuan’s solo art exhibition, titled A Thousand Ships at Make Room in LA till February 3rd, 2024.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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