Anne Wu

On a walk through my neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, I might encounter a brick house
hand-painted with rich turquoise accents, a stainless steel gate with a loose emblem tied on
with a shoelace, or an iron railing with CDs hanging off its balusters by plastic packing rope.
I am struck by moments like these because they evoke human presence, giving the landscape
texture and rhythm. I pause to take a photograph, adding the image to a glossary of
encounters, which eventually become the lexicon of shapes and patterns that inform my
sculptures and installations.
My work highlights geometric patterns, imported materials, and construction techniques specific to Chinese immigrant enclaves in New York City, such as polished stainless steel, lozenge-shaped emblems, auspicious symbols, and floral motifs. For a diasporic community and their nuanced relationship to home, these ornamental elements bridge time and distance.
I use these elements within my installations to offer viewers cues that connect them with the
poetic narrative implicit in the work. Playing with materiality and form, I build recognizable
architectural forms using steel, rigid foam, or wood, incorporating incense sticks and plaster
casts of fruits and sacred objects to emulate familiar emblems and designs.
I am particularly drawn to doors, window guards, railings, and arches—architectural
thresholds that separate public and private life—especially when their decorative features
reveal something about the inhabitants within, whether it is taste, aspiration, or longing. In A
Patterned Universe, I created an installation of interconnected portals using imported stainless
steel commonly found in Chinese enclaves throughout the world. A conduit linking multiple
places physically and metaphorically, this material stakes a claim through its flashy
presentation as a symbol of self-identification. My installation turned the ordinarily ornamental
stainless steel into a structural frame, allowing viewers to move through the peripheral space
between sidewalk and front door.
Along with regionally-specific architectural elements and patterns, my work features objects from commercial hubs like Asian supermarkets and 99-cent stores, where everyday items are first circulated globally, then locally. These items reflect not only the needs of a community, but also a shared sensibility. Plastic packing rope, incense sticks, and Chinese New Year calendars, for instance, are used throughout several of my works. These ubiquitously low-cost items can be found in domestic and commercial spaces in Chinatowns and Chinese enclaves, reflecting an intertwined relationship between aesthetics and functionality. I want to
monumentalize their value as aesthetic objects, while also signaling the commodification of
cultural imagery and the ways in which this circulation of goods and symbols creates a new
visual vocabulary.

The inquiries in my studio are symbiotic to the ongoing conversations about the diasporic East
Asian experience within the American socio-political landscape. How do we contend with
recurring dialogue that surrounds ideas of in-betweenness and the unfinished? How can I, as a visual artist, offer alternative forms of language for locales that embody these terms? My sculptures often appear to trail off mid-sentence, as if pausing in the process of creating themselves. It is in that lingering ellipsis that a space can be carved out for potential, imagination and invention.