‘This Is A Tiger’ is a window installation pairing Wy Joung Kou’s intricate ceramic & glass mosaic work with elements of inclusive design. This work launches us into the layered intersections of identity, ancestry, dis/ability, and artistry.
At the centre of this installation is Kou’s recently completed mosaic, ‘The Tiger’. ‘The Tiger’, an 8 square foot ceramic and glass mosaic, is based off a Chinese brush painting by one of their Great Uncles on their father’s side. As a mixed-race, 2nd generation Chinese-Canadian settler with no applicable knowledge of traditional Chinese arts, Kou has blended their contemporary mosaic style with traditional Chinese imagery to re-create their Uncle’s painting. The result is a unique artistic manifestation of diasporic identity.
Beyond showcasing this mosaic work, ‘This Is A Tiger’ also embeds visual description (with digital text and audio-recorded versions available online) into the installation. With a practice rooted in principles of disability justice and inclusive design, Kou’s mosaic work is usually intended to be experienced both visually and via touch. Due to COVID-19 and the implications of touch, sanitization and safety, the latter is now far less possible. Visual descriptions primarily serve as a way to increase accessibility for Blind and low-vision people. In this case, it is also employed to raise awareness for inclusive design in the arts by placing it centrally and creatively within the work, bringing it to the forefront of our attention.
‘This Is A Tiger’ offers up Kou’s take on art created in the in-between places of racial and cultural identity. It invites sighted viewers to reflect on what we, too, can gain from visual descriptions. It welcomes us to consider what our relationships are to touch/tactility regardless of ability, and how those relationships might be changing due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives.
The visual description of this work will be available in text and audio formats for the duration of the exhibition at www.wyjoungkou.com/this-is-a-tiger.