KRISTEN LIU-WONG IS AN LA BASED ARTIST WHOSE ILLUSTRATIONS REPOSITION THE FEMALE NUDE AS WHIMSICALLY EROTIC, POWERFUL, AND TOTEMIC. FELLOW PRATT INSTITUTE ALUMNI AND WRITER JILLIAN BILLARD RECONNECTS WITH THE ARTIST TO DISCUSS THE WAYS IN WHICH HER VIVID, VIBRANT WORK IS BOTH SEEPED IN MYTHOS AND ROOTED IN MODERNITY.
"MY FIGURES DEFINITELY EXIST IN THIS PARALLEL UNIVERSE."
Apart from their aesthetic allure and vivid color palette, the focus on our innate desires gives Liu-Wong’s work its charged, vibrant exploration of raw humanism. The magical worlds she creates are grounded in reality and authenticity. Liu-Wong incorporates elements that are personal to her—such as a favorite snack or beverage—in order to highlight fundamental aspects of everyday life. Animals also often appear in her work, appearing both as mythical protectors or salt-of-the-Earth reminders of our own wildness. This is representative of the realm in which Liu-Wong operates: the sacred space between fantasy and reality that explores playful female sensuality and imagination.
This notion that sexuality is integral to the universal human experience subverts the taboo that positions the act as a spectacle. In their overt expressions of sexuality, Liu-Wong’s figures express this raw, female power that seems to say “yeah I’m masturbating, so what?” or even “yes, I will bite you until you bleed.” However, Liu-Wong’s work is not explicitly erotic. “I’m not necessarily trying to make pieces that arouse...they’re more explorations of my own relationship to sexuality,” says Liu-Wong. The figures’ seductiveness exudes not from a place of performance, but rather from satisfying their own fantasies and unleashing their unabashed nature.
Rooted in modernity and seeped in mythos, Liu-Wong’s work repositions the female nude as powerful, totemic, and whimsically erotic. It challenges us to reform our views of women as sexual objects, ultimately leading viewers to examine the relationship with their own sexuality. Imbued with natural elements, our intrinsic urges, and our fantasies— Liu-Wong paints a fantasy world that taps deeper into the human experience.