DengWen-Jen / Since graduating from
National Superior Fine Arts School (L'ENSB - A) Paris, France, in 1999, Denghas
been creating works which have beenshown atmultiple exhibitions, bothin Taiwan
and abroad. Inthe beginning, Dengcleverly combined oil painting and
embroidery,following whichshe moved on to mixed media paintings on Hakka printed
cloth. Recently, she has been working on soft sculpture made with natural dyes,
together with wovenand embroidered maps, traversing the world of multiple
Deng was born in Dongzhu,
Hualian - formerly known asTourenpu, and once called Zhutian - to which Deng’s
Hakkanese grandfather had walked from Zhudong, Hsinchu. Deng’s mother came from
Majialu, a hunting areawhich the SirayaPlain Tribe in Dazhuanghad been given by
the aboriginalPuyuma Tribe in 1862,along with cattle and pigs. Dazhuang, now
Dongli, is a village formed by the Siraya people who moved to eastern Taiwan to
evade the Chinese. Many years ago, Dengconsulted the household register
transcript back to the Japanese-occupationperiod, and found her maternal family
was all marked as ‘Shou’, a symbolic characterrepresenting Taiwanese plains
aborigines. This finding embeddeditself intoDeng’s mind and hasinspired herto
discoverwhere her roots lie.
To meet the European need for blue dyes, bluegrass has been
grown in Taiwan since the island was under Dutch rule. Our ancestors used
natural plants, such as assam indigo and dye roots, to dye threads for weaving.
Following in the steps ofherancestors, Denghas endeavoredto revive
theirskills,which have almost disappeared. She collected sugar cane leaves and
bark, common garcinia, murrayapaniculata and indigo,and has boiledand
concoctedthese natural materials, as a result of whichDenghas created threads
of more than twenty colors.
Dengexplores the theme of Siraya culture. She has made tapestries with hemp
ropes, sugar cane leaves andskin, and threads, as well as history maps of
Soulangh made with cross-stitch and embroidery. Adopting the concept of a studio,
Denghas built a loft to display her manuscripts for research, sketches, and a
time-lapse recording ofher residency to help spectators better understand the
process of her creations.
The term ‘flying shuttle’
is used to describe the shuttles travelling swiftly through aweaving machine.
As an artist, Denghas traversed different eras and places, putting together
ambiguousfragments, weaving childlikestories with her imagination. The artist’s
residency happens to be a journeyback to her roots.