The Girl with Paper Boats (La Fille et ses Bateaux en Papier) is a cast resin sculpture by Hong Kong-born Canadian artist W. W. Hung. I am starting a new series of very short videos (less than two minutes), and I discuss the sculpture in the following video (the article is basically the video script).
Girl with Paper Boats
The sculpture is a kind of commentary on the plight of refugees. The girl in the sculpture represents those who are displaced by conflict. She carries a tattered stuffed animal toy in one hand, and with the other hand, she drags three large paper boats behind her.
These three boats represent different kinds of losses that refugee children may carry with them as they try to forge ahead with a new life. These are: a loss of family, a loss of dreams and a loss of childhood.
In the artist’s statement on his website W. W. Hung states:
I use the human body, placed in abstract spatial contexts, to suggest different narratives and psychological states. Many of my sculptural works explore the themes of mortality, determinism (fate), free will, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
In this sculpture, the stern expression on the girl’s face does reflect a certain amount of tenacity in the face of hardship.
The girl in the sculpture is based on the character of Danica in Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay’s historical fantasy novel Children of Earth and Sky. The fictional world of the novel is loosely based on the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans during the Renaissance, and Danica is a former refugee turned pirate.
The sculpture, which is presented Canadian Heritage Canada, is located in Montcalm-Taché Park in Gatineau, Quebec and is part of the Gatineau Culture Trail.
Mini-bio: W. W. Hung was born in Hong Kong. He studied architecture at the University of Waterloo before moving to New York, where hes worked with design firms. He now lives in Toronto.
This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.
The photos are available in higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at:
How well do you think the sculpture evokes the psychological hardships of being a refugee?
The entire sculpture is white. Why do you think the artist may have chosen to create the artwork in this way? For example, you can consider how the choice affects what you focus on when you view the sculpture, and you can consider what qualities and feelings this all-white sculpture evokes.
In the sculpture, the paper boats serve as a kind of metaphor for psychological burdens (the loss of innocence, the loss of family and the loss of dreams). Instead or boats, can you think of another visual metaphor for these three losses.
Create an artwork expressing the plight of being a refugee.
In January 2020, I visited Taipei for a few days and took photos of some of the street art there. Here is a video featuring those photos:
You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos
There are graffiti and simple throw-ups all over Taipei, but many of the more interesting pieces are in Ximending, a popular shopping and entertainment district. The street art in Taipei seems to have been created in roughly equal measure by local artists like Candy Bird (Han Chun-yueh), guest artists from overseas like INSA and MADSTEEZ and expatriates living in Taipei like fleksone.
1. Mural at Tatung University
There is a large street art mural at Tatung Unversity by British artist INSA and American artist MADSTEEZ. The mural combines MADSTEEZ’s four-eyed WEENT!LL!AN character (but with her hairstyle and make-up apparently influenced by Peking Opera) with INSA’s GIF-ITI technique. This technique involved re-painting the mural a few times with the stripes, coins and flashes being painted in different positions, photographing the whole process and then later creating a GIF image (which you can see here: streetartnews.net/2014/06/insa-x-madsteez-presents-largest-gif.html) from the photo. Some of the colors have faded a lot since it was created in 2014 for the POW! WOW! Taiwan street art festival. The face used to be purple and the eye-shadow was ruby red (I prefer the faded version).
2. Mural at the Corner of Zhanghua Road and Hankou Street
Not far from from the main site for street art in Ximending is a large Star Wars themed mural by BOUNCE that re-imagines Darth Vader and and imperial stormtroopers as bunnies.
3. Street art in Ximending
One area in Ximending is filled with street art: the area around the intersection of Lane 96, Kunming street and Wuchang Street and the adjacent Taipei Cinema Park. A lot of the murals there were created under the supervision of CITYMARX (citymarx176.wixsite.com/citymarx/news), a kind of street art promotion company.
Facing Taipei Cinema Park are two giant murals that take up entire walls: a Suicide Squad (plus transformers) mural, which was a collaborative effort that CITYMARX was involved with, and a portrait by Girenhao.
Nearby is this mural inspired by the 2019 Joker movie and painted in a series comic strip frames. This is a collective effort by a team that was led by VASTAR.
There are also several eye-catching portraits in this area.
There are also several wildstyle murals (Wildstyle refers to the street are based on intricate text designs). I particularly like the vibrant colors in fleksone’s piece and the 3D-effect in the piece by orb1taround.
I didn’t see many overtly political pieces when I was there, but I did notice this one mural in support of the the anti-government and anti-Mainland protests in Hong Kong.
In Ximending, there are also a lot of smaller and more whimsical street art works such as this Batman barrel.
The street art area of Ximending is a popular photo-taking spot.
There is a lot more street art around this area of Taipei; you can check out more of those images in the YouTube video and photo galleries I linked to at the top of the page.
4. Treasure Hill Artist Village: Street Art
Treasure Hill Artist Village is a collection of studios, artist residences, galleries and shops located in a former army village on a hillside. In 2011, artist Hsu Che-yu created a series of black and white works, entitled Hidden Stories, based on news articles about the neighborhood’s history and development.
The Treasure Hill artist village is also home to this mural by Candy Bird. My interpretation of the artwork is that it represents the dehumanizing pressures and drudgery of modern life (with the child-like figure on the far right trying to climb out of that mess).
The relatively low-key street art within Treasure Hill itself does a good job of integrating with the architecture of the area. At the base of the hill is an area for practicing tennis, and those courts are filled with more vibrant pieces.
5. Skatepark near the Huashan 1914 Creative Park
If you are in Taipei, the Huashan 1914 Creative Park is worth a visit. It is a former winery that now houses boutiques, galleries and cafés. Beside the site, is a skatepark filled with graffiti and street art.
The wall at the front of the skatepark is interesting. It is covered with electronic components.
6. Street Art around Taipei
On the side of the Taipei Artist Village building is this large mural by Candy Bird (who is also featured in the Treasure Hill section.
While walking around, I would sometimes come across murals on random streets.
When I went to view the winter cherry blossoms around Pingjing street (I was a few days too late, but some trees were still in bloom), I came across this vibrant mural on the side of an elementary school.
Interestingly, when I returned home and was checking the location on Google Maps, the street view showed two artist doing the preliminary sketch on the wall.
This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries.
Which artwork featured on this page do you like the best?
How can street art benefit a community?
Many of the murals were based on commercial properties from Western culture (e.g., Joker, Suicide Squad, Batman, Star Wars). What are the benefits and drawbacks of basing artworks on big pop-culture properties.
Sketch a wall near your home, school or office. Design an artwork that would go on the wall and add it to your sketch.
Here is a video showing an installation by Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai at Hong Kong’s K11 MUSEA.
The installation is entitled Painting with History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 3. It features a denim-patterned floor, a 20-minute video several painted and costumed mannequins and several large denim canvases featuring abstract shapes in vivid primary colors.
Painting with History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 3
The artist blends themes of religion and pop culture and elements of autobiography and fiction to create a dream-like space that evokes different times and different states of reality.
For example some the mannequins sport Manchester United paraphernalia. In one scene in the the video component of the installation, the dedication of many Thai people to Manchester United is presented as being akin to religious devotion.
This artwork on the canvases was inspired by a controversial dance and body paint performance that the artist saw on Thailand’s Got Talent.
The denim-patterned floor represents a giant painting made to be seen from the point of view of a drone or a spirit looking downwards.
The gallery showcasing the colorful multimedia exhibit was tucked away at the end of a long tunnel leading to a car park and required a small entrance fee, so no one else was there. That gave me plenty of time to soak up the visuals and music.
The Video within Korakrit Arunanondchai’s Installation
The video part of the installation serves a dialogue between the artist and a spirit—called Chantri—which embodies the communication between artist and audience. Chantri is voiced in French by the artist’s mother, You can see excerpts of the video here:
Mini-bio: Korakrit Arunanondchai was born in Thailand in 1986. He pursued his university studies in America, where studied in America (Thai, b. 1986), studying fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University in 2012. Since graduating he has been displaying his multimedia installation works around the world (including at the Venice Biennale).
This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries.
Why do you think the artist focused on denim as a material?
What impression does the use of bright primary color give you?
Do you think pop culture is taking over some aspects of religion? If so, in what ways?
Find a Barbie, Ken, GI Joe or similar kind of doll (If you have a lot of resources, you can use a mannequin!). Paint it and dress is in a costume that expresses your some aspect of your culture and/or beliefs.