“A lot of people take art too seriously, they think that it belongs to people with certain skills or status, but art is just about life,” says Taiwanese artist, Yen-Chun Lu, with the help of translator Charlie Wu.
Lu is the artistic expression behind LunarFest, a contemporary Asian arts and culture festival celebrating its 11th season.
The pig heroes
To celebrate the Year of the Pig, Lu created 12 ‘pig heroes’ that represent different nations, noting that the inspiration came to her from her childhood wonderment with wild boars – the village she grew up in was close to a mountain where many wild boars lived. Her parents warned her to stay away from the animals, saying they were aggressive.
While many people kept their distance from the animals, Lu was fascinated by them. For Lu, the wild boars were amazing creatures to be around and she wanted to showcase that in her design for LunarFest 2019.
“I like to explore different cultures,” explains Lu.
She designed the 12 pig heroes as wild boars and chose 12 nations she felt had distinct styles of clothing to represent them.
“I wanted to find a way to represent each culture, so I researched countries with very distinct fashions,” says Lu.
The concept of ‘pig heroes’ came to her from the idea that, to her, wild boars felt like heroes.
Looking forward to the future
For Lu, the Year of the Pig isn’t about the pig at all.
“Every year, people want to know what that year means, but the process is very similar,” she says.
Every year, regardless of the zodiac sign, is a way for people to let go of negativity and bring in positivity, Lu explains.
“The essence of the new year is to give you new hope and new aspirations for the future,” she says. “People should be focused on giving themselves a new start, thinking of the positive and letting go of the negative, whatever the sign is.”
More than a celebration
Born and raised in Northern Taiwan, Lu says she took to drawing from a young age and feels her artistic nature is something no one can ever take away.
Lu says in Taiwan, it’s become a tradition to be given lanterns to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but she wants the event to be more than a celebration.
“Can we think about the celebration beyond just the fun? Can we connect our passion for certain causes and charitable organizations to the celebration?”
She thought if she could get these wild boars to participate in heroic feats, then people and causes can connect. The pig heroes will all have a QR code on the back, so festival goers can scan them and receive instructions on performing a random act of kindness.
Communicating through art
Lu says she’s never really defined herself as an artist. Instead, she sees herself as a creator and communicator, her work as a form of expression; a way to communicate with people.
Lu is also inspired by nature even the paper she draws on is recycled, as her desire to help with social causes ties in with her work.
“If there is an organization I think I can help, I’ll use that as inspiration to create my work,” she says.
Lu was invited to share her work with LunarFest back in 2016 for the Year of Monkey when she was recommended by one of the Taiwanese paper craft masters she had the pleasure of working with for many years.
“I learned about the event and the purpose, and it worked well with my ideology and beliefs,” she says.
Lu has been working with Lunar Fest ever since.
For more information about the event, visit www.lunarfest.org.