Jane Wong: After Preparing the Altar, the Ghosts Feast Feverishly
June 1 @ 10:00 am - September 1 @ 8:00 pmFREE
Jane Wong’s poems and essays unearth silenced histories, immigrant narratives, and intergenerational trauma. The Seattle-based writer’s recent projects consider the social, historical, and political contexts that “haunt” the work of contemporary Asian American poets. For her first museum solo exhibition, Wong draws inspiration from her upbringing in a Chinese American restaurant in New Jersey as well as her family’s experience of hunger and poverty in rural China to consider the ways we reconcile the gaps in our lives and histories.
Engaging gluttony and hunger across multiple generations, After Preparing the Altar, The Ghosts Feast Feverishly conjures food as childhood comfort while throwing into sharp contrast the personal histories of Wong’s own family members. Wong’s mother was born at the end of the Great Leap Forward (1958–1962), a Maoist campaign that sought agricultural and industrial reform in the Chinese countryside. Also known as the Great Famine, the campaign resulted in an estimated 36 million deaths due to starvation. Wong’s installation is comprised of altars, sculptural poems, and personal effects that provoke deeper understandings of food waste and the realities of low-income immigrant families.
Seeking to honor her family, ancestors, loved ones, and all that sustains life in an otherwise fraught world through writing, Wong implores us to become more attuned to our shared histories. As the final lines of the exhibition’s title poem ask, “Tell us, little girl, are you/ hungry, awake, astonished enough?”