On view July 22–September 4, 2022

Featuring works by Sandra Low, Keiko Fukazawa, and Kim-Trang Tran

USC Pacific Asia Museum is proud to present Off-Kilter featuring the work of Sandra Low, Keiko Fukazawa, and Kim-Trang Tran. On view from July 22 to September 4, 2022, the exhibition highlights the artists’ shared adventurous and experimental attitudes towards their chosen mediums and uncanny ability to address socio-political issues with immediacy, power, and pathos. Using satire and critical commentary, their work underscores the power of women of color in shaping social change. 

Warning: this exhibition contains sensitive content such as nudity, scenes from war and gun replicas.

Sandra Low:

Sandra Low creates artworks that build on her personal experiences growing up in Southern California as she navigates the intersection of American pop culture with her Chinese American upbringing. Low owns the dissonance she has felt since childhood and mines it for visual exploration through her use of humorous and poignant juxtapositions of objects and styles. How do our experiences manifest in our food and in the objects we amass? Low’s paintings and drawings examine the interchange of cultures across multiple generations through a lens of humor and sentiment.

The artworks exhibited here represent three different series. The large canvases from her “Cheesy Paintings” series focus on the representation of kitschy subjects set within romantic landscapes. The central objects nearly disappear in a layer of oozing, dripping American cheese. With great attention to detail and a painterly eye, Low creates these paintings to call attention to the contrasting components of American life. On each canvas, viewers can relate to the seduction and illusion of prosperity; the desire to consume and the dangers of gluttony; and the way something familiar can seem completely novel when presented in an unexpected way.

Low’s unique ability to merge the familiar with the unfamiliar while finding profound humor and warmth shines throughout her work. Her “Ma Stories” chronicle cultural and generational differences through the illustration of her mother’s unique perspective of her daily world. Low’s “Pandemic Prints” draw from a similarly uncanny ability to balance the personal with the poignant. Through all of these artworks, she reminds us that we can find humor and the absurd

in even the darkest of moments, cutting through the drama of life and finding a sense of balance.

Keiko Fukazawa:

Keiko Fukazawa believes that art “should define its era, reflect what we are living through, and challenge us to think and act with more awareness as we each shape the current and future world we live in.” Born and raised in Japan, Fukazawa has lived in the U.S. for nearly forty years. Her love of clay is evident in all of the work she creates. Fukazawa sees clay as a forceful medium that allows for boundary-breaking detail and artistry. She completed a multi-year artist residency in Jingdezhen, China from 2013 until 2015. This experience further contextualized her longstanding interest in porcelain as a medium tied to Chinese culture and history. Her time in China also provided further insight into the unique connections between consumerism and control as they manifest in contemporary Chinese society, a theme seen in several of the works exhibited here.

As an artist raised in Japan now living in Southern California, Fukazawa has honed her perspective to question the role of perception and power in the world around us. By creating familiar objects in the exquisite and historically significant medium of porcelain, Fukazawa asks viewers to question the very systems in which we participate, pulling us into the detailed surfaces of her work and encouraging dialogue about our need to find common ground.

Kim-Trang Tran:

Kim-Trang Tran creates multimedia artworks that question the way we perceive the world through our unique experiences and the ongoing influence of history and conflict on our lives. Tran’s experiences as a Vietnamese War refugee who immigrated to the United States at age 9 have been central to her body of work. Movements: Battles and Solidarity is a large-scale three-channel video installation projected on handmade screens bearing images that explore the connections between women of color and their shared socio-political and physical “movements.” This installation links fashion, race, and class through intersecting images highlighting women as they challenge power structures and create autonomy.

The fashion industry’s roots in hegemony and both capitalist and cultural exploitation are like tendrils reaching through history and across the globe. Tran’s research into the subject of the global trade of cotton and its connections to colonization and war led her to focus on significant events between 1972–74 when the Civil Rights Movement collided with high fashion, labor unrest in the garment industry, and the Vietnam War. Tran’s installation Movements: Battles and Solidarity lays bare the interrelationship between women, diversity, production, and power and the continuing urgency of these subjects today.

This exhibition is possible because of the generous support of the Pasadena Art Alliance.