Hearts and Livers, Precious Ones is a series of life-size drawings on vellum in which the figures overlap, blurring distinctions between bodies and floating in space. The artist worked from old family photographs to bring distant memories and deceased loved ones into the immediate, face-to-face present. The scroll-like hangings reference the Chinese tradition of ancestor veneration, as well as Biblical patterns of generational blessings and curses. The light paper is secured only at the top in order to allow it to float off the wall in the wake of passers-by. Viewers are encouraged to gently touch the surface of the drawings with their fingertips to come into physical contact with these “ghosts,” perhaps to temporarily pin them against the solid wall for a better look, or just as one might trace the edge of a loved one’s hand. The smudges, shadows, and fingerprints left behind add to the work’s aura of presence and absence; physicality and spirituality; the dirt of our bodies and the perceived purity of our souls.
The title comes from a rough translation of the Chinese phrase “xin gan bao bei,” which the artist’s father would say in reference to his children--that they are as precious to him as his own organs: his heart and his liver.