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MFA Program Personal Statement, Photographer, Traveler, Explorer, Chinese Applicant

Updated: Jan 23


Originally from China, I have been studying in the US since 2012, focusing on Studio Art, Computer Science, and to a lesser extent, Philosophy. For the first several years as a photographer in America, I shot a lot of landscapes, filing them away on a stock image site. Then one day, my principal mentor, Peter Happel Christian, asked me, “You already know ‘how’ to take photos, but ‘why’ do you take photos? Soon, I was launched on an intensive evaluation of the ‘why,’ and I hope to continue and deepen my search as an MFA student at XXXX.


My most outstanding achievement is co-authoring a book that whetted my appetite for further publication. I have several central professional and personal goals that include a great deal of travel and magazine - for me, the two go hand in hand. My philosophy of art and photography sees the photograph as a tool and the ‘image’ as the expression of a visual language. Our book, “Photography and Image,” published by XXXX Press in 2017, has helped me to chart a course for graduate study at XXXX with a focus to match my enthusiasm. At the same time, I want to broaden my ideas and set them into context. I began graduate school in another program inferior to the MFA Program at XXXX, and I believe I made a mistake that I would now very much like to correct.


I have already begun my studio and gotten far enough to realize that doing it the way I want will take a long time: I love planning, envisioning, and imagining. I also began a self-publishing press called “Gluggaveður” (window-weather, lovely to look through a window, but not pleasant to be out in). Being a successful independent artist with my studio has always been my dream.


I have a particular following in China, primarily due to my active membership with a group of intellectuals known through their community website Zhihu. I contribute to this community as a writer and an artist with reviews and criticism of contemporary art and photography. I give lectures through the website as well as present my work. I was awarded the “Zhihu Salt Club" Honorable Membership in 2018 (only 14 honorable members are elected each year, one in each of 14 primary categories.)


I resist regulation and frequently travel and explore, keeping my creative juices flowing in independent directions, working to stimulate and then channel my imagination. I enjoy reading independent thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau, Christopher McCandless, and Larry Darrell ([1]). I like a cold environment because it calms me down, and I keep away from the crowds to stay focused. My work tends to ask those (作品) questions that vibrate through different periods of my life - struggles, anxiety, depression, the aching voids produced by periodic and painstaking pondering. For me, Art is a tool for self-regulation and realization - a measurement of life and the content of my identity. I am keen to employ materials and processes to reproduce landscapes based on the distortion of memories and emotions. My varied methods include burning, freezing, soaking, scratching, etc. I also work as a bookbinder, producing handmade artist books.


On edge, My latest project portrays a private perception of isolation, frigidity, and anxiety reflected in advanced capitalism. I live lost and displaced to achieve freedom. I wander willingly between the fringe of nature and civilization, embracing uncertainties and contradictory identities, looking for a place to live or somewhere to disappear. Many of my photographs reflect experiences of frigidity, such as a cold light from a vast billboard screened into public spaces with NPC-like[2] strangers who inhabit the city; or cold air, dim light, and animals in an isolated mountain village.


Many of my prints are coated with melted wax, giving the images a sense of transparency, with emotion created by brushstrokes and gestures. The coating of each image has a unique texture corresponding to emotional differences in the picture content. The material makes the prints more organic, suggesting harmony with the environment. The work can also be seen as sculptural objects, not just photographs. I am planning my new project tilted with In the Slit.


LA will provide just enough warmth after living in cold places like Minnesota and New York for seven years. I crave the bright lights of California, the energy – it is what I seek, a dynamic, vibrant place where I can focus on my work and listen to how others feel about it.


I am inspired by Paul Graham, Alec Soth, and Yamamato Masao. Much of my inspiration comes from philosophers such as Heidegger, Foucault, and Nietzsche. I embody Heidegger ‘s ‘warning’ about technology and modern life. Foucault has a lot to say about coldness in Madness and Civilization that will always be reflected in my work. Technically, I work with color analog photography and alternative processes. And I try to experiment with different materials. For example, I burned a photo of water in a no-oxygen space and let it carbonize. The process removed the color and lots of details, but it highlighted the water texture - the beauty of the sublime. I’m also trying to employ new methods and technology in my work. I have recently been trying to embed luminous fiber into a photobook.


Varied methods include professional appreciating your consideration of my application to the MFA Program at XXXX.

[1] Larry Darrell: The Fictional character in The Razor's Edge [2] Non-Player CharacterCharacters in video games


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