Hung Liu
Dream Catcher, 2017
Jacquard tapestry
75 x 76 in.
Edition of 8

Hung Liu’s 2017 tapestry Dream Catcher weaves together the profound, emotionally charged imagery of Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photography with the lyrical colors and expressive brushwork of Liu’s own epic canvases. The tapestry is based on a 70 x 80 inch oil painting of the same name, inspired by a black-and-white photograph taken by Lange in the American “Dust Bowl.” Lange’s photographs of downtrodden children, women, and farm laborers find a kindred spirit in Liu, whose paintings often reimagine anonymous, forgotten, or oppressed figures as heroes and heroines. Several of the canvases Liu has painted from Lange’s imagery depict children fetching water from wells or rivers, as if incorporating a suggestion of life and possibility into the dry, dusty landscape. This animation of Lange’s subjects in Liu’s paintings is heightened by what Maria Porges describes as “the infiltration of saturated color into figures and backgrounds, often in the form of outlines or slender but emphatic strokes.” Liu has described these boundaries of color as “hope, coming through the cracks between things,” which Porges links to “a vivid emotional world behind the monochrome of these figures’ lives.” Liu revised Dream Catcher‘s composition for the tapestry edition, digitally adding new elements such as the reflection of clouds in the water. With the bright reds and ochres of Liu’s oil painting faithfully translated into warp and weft threads, Dream Catcher’s world blooms with color, as the riverbank behind the girl practically explodes in a symphony of colorful abstraction. – Nick Stone