Wish You Were Here

Alisa Yang

In Residence: Sep 28 – Nov 20, 2020

Exhibition: Nov 19, 2020 – Jan 10, 2021

Rest is our foundation for a liberated world. Care is how we will shift culture. Rest today, make space for others to rest today. And we will rest.—Tricia Hersey (aka “Nap Bishop”), 1-833-LUV-NAPS, automated voice message, November 11, 2020

The year 2020 will long be remembered as one of myriad trials and tribulations suffered worldwide, whether those challenges resulted from the global pandemic, economic recession, social justice reckoning, or, more likely, some combination of all three. Alisa Yang’s Artpace project Wish You Were Here is conceived and created as a direct response to these ongoing crises.

Yang suffers from chronic illness, which has required the artist to forge a complex relationship with her body and be more attuned to the issues of self-care. Her illness presents no visible symptoms or manifestations and therefore is often difficult for others to empathize with. The physical and mental demands of chronic illness are not only alienating and isolating but also severely impact Yang’s ability to make art. The challenges of coping with an invisible illness while existing in the world as a woman of color have only been compounded in the age of COVID-19 in which prejudice, social-distancing protocols, and a new pandemic of loneliness abounds. All of these factors have compelled Yang to slow down—to rest—while attempting to do so within a culture that regards busyness as tantamount to productivity and success, concepts that further commodify our notions of work and the laboring body. Yang’s efforts to slow down and assess universal human needs permeate her Artpace project and take the form of radical care and gifting. Her care package, offered to visitors to the exhibition, invites the audience to rest and honor their own bodies, and it contains specific objects that have helped the artist do just that.

The accompanying multichannel video documents the assembly of the care package—a repetitive but meditative action. Yang’s video documents the process while also demonstrating the generous gifts of time, intention, and care the artist has invested into the 300 boxes created for the exhibition. Each one is a deeply personal gift from the artist to the recipient.

Additionally, Yang designed a full-sized billboard as part of her Artpace project, a mock-up of which is on view in the gallery. The actual billboard will be installed for the holiday season during the month of December in Dilley, TX, about 75 miles southwest of San Antonio and just minutes from the largest family detention center in the United States. The billboard reads, “Jesus was a brown child seeking asylum.” Here, Yang calls attention to the immigration and family separation crises, a government sanctioned lack of care experienced by those individuals detained by ICE merely for seeking refuge and a better life.

Wish You Were Here is a simple and deliberate invitation to visitors, and all of us, to rest and honor our bodies. The exhibition is rooted not only in Yang’s personal experience but, even more profoundly, the human experience.

Photo Credit: Beth Devillier
3D Tour Capture: Chris Mills

Gallery Notes PDF for “Wish You Were Here”


Alisa Yang

Los Angeles, USA / New York, USA / Helsinki, Finland

Alisa Yang is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker with a research-based practice exploring language, cultural identity, and intergenerational trauma of Asian diasporas. Centering the body as a site of geopolitical and social conditionings, her feminist-driven works across mediums are intimate negotiations in orienting oneself towards healing and social change. She earned her BFA with honors from Art Center College of Design in California and an MFA as a phi kappa phi scholar from the University of Michigan. She has exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, and biennials, such as the Aesthetica Art Prize, MoMAPS1, Orange County Center of Contemporary Arts, New Mexico Museum of Art, and Art Nova 100 in Beijing. Her recent work has been supported by residencies, including Yaddo and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, with a fellowship from UnionDocs Summer Documentary Lab. Her experimental documentaries have screened in film festivals worldwide with awards, such as the 2018 Special Arte Laguna Prize, Best Regional Filmmaker at the 2017 Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the first Golden Reel Awards for Short Documentary at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

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Lauren Cross

Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Lauren Cross is an artist, curator, and scholar, who holds a BA in Art, Design and Media from Richmond, The American International University in London (2006), England, a MFA in Visual Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA (2010), and a PhD in Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies from Texas Woman’s University (2017). She is currently Program Coordinator and Senior Lecturer of the Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies (IADS) program at the University of North Texas, and founder of the arts non-profit WoCA Projects in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cross has been recognized nationally and internationally for her art practice and community work. Her work has been featured in museums and galleries across the US, and displayed at the 2015 Edinburgh Art Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland (UK). She received the Third Annual Visionary Award by Fort Worth Weekly magazine in 2013, and was named one of Dallas’s “100 Creatives” by the Dallas Observer in 2015. In 2018, Cross was selected as a Visiting Artist for the Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art, and an inaugural Carter Community Artist for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In 2019, Cross was recognized as one of thirteen “Women Forwarding Fort Worth” by Fort Worth Magazine. Most recently, Cross curated the retrospective Vicki Meek: 3 Decades of Social Commentary at the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

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