art portfolio

red in nature

As an American of Chinese descent, the politics of the COVID-19 pandemic has burdened me with a layer of psychological stress on top of worrying about staying alive. My American-ness was being questioned more than ever as the pandemic unfolded. Whether imagined or not, when someone was rude to me, I could not help but wonder if it had to do with my East Asian appearance. I experienced an existential crisis.

Like many others, I sought refuge in nature, where politics can be forgotten. Being more aware of my own mortality also made me more aware of the living things around me. The downy woodpeckers and northern cardinals were no strangers to my yard, and yet I had not noticed just how frequently they visited until I spent time observing them at home because of the pandemic. While disconnected physically to people other than my immediate family, I began to feel increasingly connected to the natural physical world around me because of my new awareness.

I took a long hiatus from art photography as motherhood took up my time and psychic energy. Somehow, nature awakened a yearning to create that lay dormant all those years. Photography was therapy. A pattern emerged from the pictures I made, and the red color in the living things I encountered called out to me—a burst of joy in the bleakness we were living.

The organisms in this series were all photographed in 2021, outdoors and on location in Massachusetts. Some were found in my yard, others chanced upon during hikes. I am learning every day to identify living things around me, paying particular attention to whether they are indigenous/native to Massachusetts and their effects on ecology.

As I put together this body of work, it occurred to me that I have been seeing the connectedness among all these different living things, wherever they are from, through art. They are each unique, but together, they form a coherent art series, and they all belong.

This gallery is work in progress.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Red in Nature

Copyright © 2021 Lisa Tang Liu. All rights reserved.