Chinese opera performer Mee Mee Chin and artist Arlan Huang in front of Arlan's paintings and Mee Mee's opera costume in the Pearl River Mart gallery in Tribeca

Arlan Huang and Mee Mee Chin: Closing Distances (Feb. 2–March 17, 2019)

While painter Arlan Huang and amateur Cantonese opera performer Mee Mee Chin are part of the same family, they grew up very differently. Arlan was American born to American-born parents. Mee Mee was born in China and came to the U.S. as a child. Arlan is from San Francisco while Mee Mee is from New York. Arlan's parents encouraged his art while Mee Mee didn’t realize until later that she had the freedom to choose her own career.

But they also have much in common. They’re both artists. They’re both close with their families but at the same time feel a distance between themselves and older generations. They both want to close that distance and hoped their exhibition would help do that.


Through abstract paintings and traditional Cantonese opera costumes, CLOSING DISTANCES explored what it means to be Asian American, whether born here or not. The works played off each other: the paintings reminiscent of silk dress patterns and long ago Chinese banquets, the costumes full of history and meaning, not just about Chinese culture but Chinese culture in America.


They also represent dichotomies — contemporary versus traditional, new versus historical, made in America versus made in China — but have just as many commonalities. The deep infusion of memory, the longtime influence of culture, the closeness and distance, sometimes simultaneously, with family.

The artists hoped CLOSING DISTANCES provided a place for those dichotomies and commonalities to intersect, and for different generations, cultures, and viewpoints to come together.

Learn more about the artists in our interview with them.

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