Xi Zhang, Artist, Art, Painting
The GMO Farm, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 72 inches, 2022

My work investigates the drain of isolation and working-class life through the eye of an immigrant. This inspiration for my paintings comes from the dissonance between the notion of the American Dream I heard about while I was growing up in China, and the reality I have seen living in the United States. For depicting this juxtaposition, I use comedic elements with vibrant color and fantasy imagery to depict the psychological and physical weight experienced in turmoil and tribulations. I believe a good way to present a tragedy is through comedy. In The White Collars, commuters stand side-by-side, made anonymous and cut off from one another by white cone collars like those put on a dog after surgery. In The Blue Collars, commuters ride a bus together, depicted as anonymous ghostly white figures tethered by bright blue leashes. The scene is surreal and dystopian but lively and saturated with color. Commuters with faces covered by the collars around their necks suggest the ubiquitous masks worn by the populace and especially the workforce. Their collars anonymize the wearer; we can’t read their faces and expressions. Even among a crowd everyone is alone. The collar also becomes a blinder preventing the wearer from seeing the people around them.