Jenn Pang — “The Storyteller”
Bio: Jenn Pang is a self-taught artist in Seattle who is also the director of the Science and Math Institute (SAMI) at Bellevue College. She is a proud fourth generation American of Chinese and Japanese ancestry — cultures that have a rich history with paper and painting. She has worked with paper since she was six when she taught herself how to make origami from books.
Typically she works with watercolor and paper, but is always experimenting. Jenn likes to try new styles and challenges herself, whether it is concentrating on a single shape (often circles), integrating molecular designs into her work or moving collage elements into a new context; like what she has done with “The Storyteller.” Jenn has a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion work, particularly where it intersects with science. She has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Washington and is constantly awed by the natural world. Follow her on Instagram @brushandbinding for fun, colorful art, info on social justice and a reminder to take care of yourself and others.
Pang’s Artist Statement: “The Storyteller” aims to invoke a curiosity about what creates the essence of a person. The vase at the bottom is meant to represent how a person looks and the bursting flowers represent the collection of stories we each carry within ourselves.
We are all storytellers. It is through stories that we often find the first spark of connection with someone else. While many of our stories lie within our bodies — one can’t live in a dominant American society without being judged on assumed race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation etc. — we also harbor countless tales of our own experiences, our ancestors, and our communities that go beyond what others can see. And while many of our stories hold a lot of pain and hurt feelings, they also help shape who we are.
Flowers are ephemeral and changing — and so are our stories. “The Storyteller” asks us: Which ones are we cultivating, telling ourselves about who we want to be? What kind of editing do we have to do to our stories to “fit in” and live in a society that might harm us if we disclose the whole story? Who is safe to tell our stories to?
This piece illustrates the first steps towards connection in one of the most ancient human traditions, storytelling. Stories bring communities together and shape movements. Stories encourage us to mindfully listen to each other and consider new perspectives. Our stories help us understand what matters [and] who matters, but it’s up to us to decide how to honor them.
The original piece is 16 by 20 inches. The collage elements were cut from mostly Japanese yuzen or chiyogami paper (often seen in origami), then glued to a painted watercolor background on Ampersand Clayboard. The image was then photographed and printed on paper and added to the building with wheat paste.