My name is Xiaodan Wang, I go by Clara because it’s easier to pronounce. I am a second year double major student major in Studio Arts and History of Art and Archicture and minor in French and Museum Studeis. I am really glad to be a part of the Creative Arts fellowship and working with others in the group. I enjoy approaching art from new perspectives to discover how different views and experiences will change the way I see my own works and the art world. This fellowship gives me a chance to focus on my working process so that I can check on my progress and my thinking path constantly.
I started my project with a very broad focus – cultural difference and cultural identity. As an international student from China, studying and living in the US impact me through different aspects. I wanted to use my experiences as the context for my project to provide my audiences with opportunities to get to know a different culture and breaking some of the stereotypes. As I was trying to narrow down the content for each work at the beginning of the spring semester, I heard from my family in China about the new virus that appeared. I found it interesting that some people in China and in America are talking about the same thing in very different attitudes and perspectives, so I thought this could be an intriguing entry point to lead my project to the conversation I wanted to have. I talked about this idea with my mentor Barbara Weissberger, who is an artist and a faculty in the Studio Arts Department at Pitt, and she supported my thought and encouraged me to make works, so I started drawing posters related to COVID-19.
Not long after that, COVID-19 became a global pandemic and more controversial issues such as racism and xenophobia have been brought up. As I continued to work on my project, I realized that the misunderstandings of different cultures or different people are one of the main reasons that caused people’s improper reactions and comments. Being an Asian in America at this particular time allows me to experience and witness these reactions and comments and it brought a lot to my project. I wanted to include these memories and experiences about COVID-19 in my project to further develop the conversation about cultural differences and stereotypes. Currently, I am in the process of making more tests and trying to develop the works and materials that I already created before with my mentor. Hopefully, I will decide what works I want to include in the final project and start to finalize them by next month.