Soe Yu Nwe’s Artist Statement
Although I work in a variety of media, my main identity as an artist is in clay. My artwork narrates the cultural alienation and anxiety I have experienced living in both Myanmar, Thailand and currently in the United States. My grandparents were Chinese soldiers who fled China. I was born on the borderline of Thailand and Myanmar, and moved to Yangon with my parents when I was seven. The constant and disruptive shift between my private and public linguistic and cultural environment created confusion regarding my identity. My inability to merge with the surrounding environment created a sense of psychological confinement and a longing for a place of comfort and rest. In my artwork, amalgamations of human figures, natural and architectural forms meld into one uncertain but solid dreamlike spectacle. I attempt to reconcile the fragmented experiences by constructing and combining disparate objects that symbolize different part of myself and different period of my life experience. Universal symbols such as houses, shrines and human bodies become metaphors for my emotional and mental environments.
When I am building forms, I strive to work sensitively with clay’s immediate responsiveness and tactile quality. I make forms intuitively by using imagery that stems from my childhood experiences in different places and countries to describe my chaotic and isolated mind reaching for peace. In my sculpture “House” I included Yaksha, a mythical earth god in both Thai and Burmese folklore, as the safeguard of the house
that embodied my essence. I collect visual images that I respond to on a visceral level, and I attempt to create a relationship between the form during the sculpting process by constructing and connecting forms that are seemingly unrelated. The resulting ceramic work is a compilation of imagery arranged and expressed through juxtaposition of gestures, textures, colors, patterns and composition to express a sense of psychological isolation, mental confusion and yearning for connection.