MissTANGQ (Hua Meng Yu) is a Chinese-born, first-generation, queer-identified, multi-media artist. She is deeply inspired by the hyphenated experience and explores this through animation, installation and mask-making to create interdisciplinary work. She is interested in adapting ancient mythologies for contemporary storytelling and investigating how ancestral traditions can inform diasporic futurisms.
Her work among diverse communities led her to study Chinese metaphysics and philosophy as instruments for healing and self-development. She has since made it a mission to utilize these ancient technologies to explore the intersections of nature, the human spirit and mysticism. These themes also reflect the queer and immigrant experience, which for her, seeks to transform what has been inherited by society and culture into a creative undertaking of self-creation.
MissTANGQ received a GAP funding award in 2016 for her co-curated exhibition entitled New Queer Creation Mytho. Based on the ancient Chinese creation myth of Nüwa and Fuxi (the brother-sister/husband-wife pair that are responsible for the creation of the world and various scientific inventions), she reimagines these characters through a queer/trans lens. Combining these figures into a single sculptural mask, she explores the manipulation of new art materials as well as identity concepts within folklore. In reflection of the project, MissTANGQ says she believes this “brought a new dialogue into the queer community around ancestral and spiritual practices and how that can guide our identity politics.”
In examining the responses to her GAP project, MissTANGQ says, “one of the impactful responses I’ve received is the different emotions and expressions people see from the two faces integrated into one mask. It’s very surprising to me the different feelings people read into the piece that were not intentional on my end - such as sadness, pride and even anger. Because I wanted to convey an entity that was a first ancestor to humanity (based off a Chinese creation myth), I enjoyed that people were intuiting emotions from the character when the gender and cultural identifiers were stripped away.”
She gives the following advice to future GAP applicants: “[do] not worry too much about what the judges and panelists might think. I really followed my own passion for this project and communicated why it was so important to me and my community.”
MissTANGQ has been expanding the queeros/re-mythology series with the intention of creating more masks, animations and installations that redefine ancient stories and heroes through a queer orientation. She is currently completing an artist residency in China.
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Jhenn Whalen is a graduate student of the MFA Arts Leadership at Seattle University. She tells stories of artists and their communities to connect action and inspiration for social change.