Liberty Mourning the Death of Her Sister - Beijing, 1989
Acrylic on canvas, tondo
Diameter 72 inches (182.88 cm)
Asian American Arts Centre, New York
CHINA: June 4, 1989 An Art Exhibition organized by the Asian American Arts Centre,
Blum Helman Warehouse, New York, Oct. 12 - Nov. 12, 1989
Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, Aug. 24 - Oct. 4, 1992: traveled to; Mexic-Arte, Austin, Texas, Jun. 4 - Jul. 14, 1992
Buckham Gallery, Flint, Michigan, Oct. 14 - Nov. 30, 1994
Artspiral, New York, Winter, 1989
CHINA: June 4, 1989 An Art Exhibition, exh. cat. Flint, Michigan: Buckham Gallery, 1994, p. 34
A Chinese-American artist living in NYC's Lower East Side, Martin Wong famously championed the pre-gentrified landscape of his decaying neighborhood as well as the heroes of his heritage, most notably Bruce Lee. This work, created for inclusion in the Asian American Arts Centre's group show, CHINA: June 4, 1989 An Art Exhibition, was his sobering reaction to the Tiananmen Square massacre that had become an international incident just a few months prior.
To the cheering of 100,000 people, student protestors wheeled a 33-foot high papier-mache sculpture they dubbed "Lady Liberty," their embodiment of the Statue of Liberty and a stoic expression of those protestors' demand for democracy. Ultimately, this peaceful protest ended violently, resulting in deaths estimated anywhere between the hundreds and thousands, as well as a period of Martial Law and a crippling government crackdown on civil liberties. In Martin Wong's work, the Statue of Liberty collapses in sorrow, reacting to the existential death of the protestors' Lady Liberty, and in kind, the death of their hopes for democracy, freedom of speech and much more. Having himself just a year prior suffered through the Tompkins Square Park Riot, Wong shows the Statue of Liberty enveloped by the brick tenements of his own neighborhood-in-crisis, reminding viewers that the statue herself has suffered through her own share of traumatic events.
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