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Artist duo leave 9-11 tragedy behind them to revel in Canadian nature

Three artists connect food and nature to self-healing in Richmond art exhibit
Nourish art exhibit artists
Artist duo Roger Chen (left) and Wan-Yi Lin (center) along with Chinese-American poet Jane Wong are showcasing their works in Richmond Art Gallery's newest art exhibition.

Before witnessing the tragic 9-11 incident from their Brooklyn studio, Taiwanese-Canadian artist duo Wan-Yi Lin and Roger Chen always had an inclination they might end up in Canada.

But it was shortly after that the pair – known collectively as “Mizzonk” – took the leap, wanting to get out of New York with nothing but an intuition guiding them to a new country.

Chen said that it wasn’t until they moved to B.C. that they realized how much reconnecting with nature would change them.

“There’s something about nature that’s not judgmental,” said Chen.

“It’s always there and always changing and renewing itself and that’s just comforting.”

Mizzonk’s work will be part of an art exhibition called “Nourish” being held at the Richmond Art Gallery until April 3.

Included in Nourish will be “Six Acres,”- the duo’s work is named after a six-acre area in Metro Vancouver that they developed a connection with after moving from New York.

The water colour art piece, said Mizzonk, reflects the natural environment that helped them, and hopefully others, find comfort and also understanding themselves better.

Lin added that the comfort of nature can also serve as a way to find peace and building a relationship for a person, but those around them as well.

“We’re not a single entity, we need the environment and nature as a whole to be able to understand and create a balance and we hope that others can feel that as well and trust in their intuition just like we did through our art,” said Lin.

Their work will be accompanied by that of Chinese-American poet Jane Wong, with the three addressing issues of isolation, fear of food supply shortage, poverty and mental health in the art exhibition titled “Nourish.”

Wong is making her first Canadian art debut in Richmond through her art installation titled “After Preparing the Altar, The Ghosts Feast Feverishly.”

Wong’s installation includes a large round dining table with bowls that contain lines of her poem written on them.

“I find it exciting to see lines of my poem come to life in a physical form and that makes me feel like my words are much more alive,” said Wong.

The table, she added, is the foundation of her family history, and the food and the bowls represented the “healing qualities” and comfort that people need to understand their past histories of hardship.

“My art and show is specifically tied to healing, and food, specifically in this installation, has a heavy meaning when it comes to my family’s history and many other families that experienced loss and grief during The Great Leap Forward in Asia.”

Nourish includes an extension program including artist talks with the artists and storytelling workshops.

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