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Butterfly Lovers Bursting from the Sun

“Butterfly Lovers” is installed in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, inside the restaurant “Sunday at the Museum”.

This 7 meter long piece is made of 7 types of tea leaves covered in resin and acrylic paint.

It tells the story of the Asian diaspora – the butterflies represent lovers (in Chinese folklore, “Butterfly Lovers” are a pair of lovers very much like Romeo and Juliet 祝英台梁山伯) and the Sun here represents places of origin. The Sun is shaken and butterflies fly away into all directions – sometimes these butterflies have to say goodbye to their partners (so some butterflies fade into the background), sometimes they reunite and sometimes they meet other butterflies (some of them are shown flying side by side).

My own maternal grandpa escaped China in the 50s and had to say bye to his wife and children. He met my grandma (his second wife) in Hong Kong and they eventually moved to Malaysia. It wasn’t until a few decades later that he got to see his first wife and children again in China. When both grandmas met, there was no resentment – they got along and accepted their fate. While making this, it did make me think of Malaysians dispersed around the world too – I hope with the recent change that’s happened, many will find their way back to the Sun.

“Butterfly Lovers” is installed in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, inside the restaurant “Sunday at the Museum”.

This 7 meter long piece is made of 7 types of tea leaves covered in resin and acrylic paint.

It tells the story of the Asian diaspora – the butterflies represent lovers (in Chinese folklore, “Butterfly Lovers” are a pair of lovers very much like Romeo and Juliet 祝英台梁山伯) and the Sun here represents places of origin. The Sun is shaken and butterflies fly away into all directions – sometimes these butterflies have to say goodbye to their partners (so some butterflies fade into the background), sometimes they reunite and sometimes they meet other butterflies (some of them are shown flying side by side).

My own maternal grandpa escaped China in the 50s and had to say bye to his wife and children. He met my grandma (his second wife) in Hong Kong and they eventually moved to Malaysia. It wasn’t until a few decades later that he got to see his first wife and children again in China. When both grandmas met, there was no resentment – they got along and accepted their fate. While making this, it did make me think of Malaysians dispersed around the world too – I hope with the recent change that’s happened, many will find their way back to the Sun.

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