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.wwhung.com
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:
- Visit the Gatineau Culture Trail website: Ville de Gatineau: Sentier Culturel
- Artists website: W. W. Hung, Canadian Figurative Sculptor
- 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.
~text, video and photos by longzijun
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