“I’m trying to create an experience when you walk into a space,” Horatio Hung-Yan Law said about his “DACA Lounge A Dream Sanctuary” exhibit in Archer Gallery.
Law is a Portland artist who was featured last month in the gallery’s artist in residence program. He said he’s known as a “mixed-media artist” who creates many collaborative projects emphasizing community. Some of his recent projects, like the “South Park Vortex,” involved volunteer work.
Law was born in Hong Kong and lived there until age 16. When his family moved to America, he studied in New York and Italy. In college, he said, he started studying science with an art class on the side before eventually deciding to study art full time.
“Art has allowed me to think more freely,” Law said.
For a while, Law said, his work routine was more conventional: create something, sell something, participate in an art show, then rinse and repeat. He said that changed on 9/11.
He was in his studio, preparing for a big show in October. He said when he first heard the news he asked himself what his work had to do with what was actually happening in the world and realized that the conventional way wasn’t enough for him.
A couple of years later the Iraq war began. Days after the war started, the internet was flooded with devastating pictures.
Law said he remembers everyone being “addicted to the images.” He said he focused on photos from non-American journalists showing less of a pro-U.S perspective.
Reflecting on this, he said he replaced the photos’ pixels with colored candies. Building on the idea, he took pictures of people from both sides of the war and repeated the process, titling it “War Candies.”
Years later he started a local project in Seattle’s Marra-Desimone Park regarding bioswales, a type of storm drain. Bioswales are designed to eliminate debris and other pollutants in runoff water and Law was asked to create a project promoting them.
He said he designed spirals with decorative snowflakes to be placed on the storm drain catch basins but instead of designing the snowflakes himself, he asked volunteers from the South Park neighborhood to do it.
Law said the snowflakes represent water and community, since every snowflake is unique like the people who created them.
Though all these projects developed Law’s style, he said his most recent project, the “DACA Lounge A Dream Sanctuary” is his most valuable.
With an uncertain political fate for many students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and multiple stereotypes surrounding them, Law said he created a space and hosted Clark classes in it so that DACA students could comfortably create poster projects expressing their experiences.
The DACA lounge, like most of Law’s career, showcases community, which Law said guides him through almost every project he creates.
Artist in Residency Program:
The artist in residency program, which most recently featured Horatio Hung-Yan Law, occurs every Spring since around 2011.
Art professor Senseney Stokes said the residence program is a way for students to meet and learn from local artists.
Stokes said artists are chosen based on the kind of art they create, and if they’ve done any timely projects. Law was chosen based on his timely community-inspired project, and because he often collaborates with students and volunteers in his art.
Stokes said the “space offers a lot in terms of conversation and learning.” Typically, she said, an artist in residence teaches several class meetings over a couple weeks.