Mei-ling Hom is a Philadelphia based artist whose artworks range from site specific installations and public art commissions to ceramics, works on paper, stone carving, and bronze castings. She has drawn on her Chinese American heritage to explore the formal issues of space and form in her sculpture. For Mei-ling, artist residencies in China, Korea, Japan, and Thailand have become a way to investigate Asian cultures. In 1992 a Lila Wallace/Arts International residency took her to Thailand for six months. Since then she has returned to Thailand numerous times to cast bronze in Ayutthaya and to collaborate with contemporary Thai artists. In 1995 a Japan Friendship Commission grant supported her study of the Matsuri festival floats of Japan. Art projects in Shanghai, Chengdu, and Jingdezhen introduced her to China. Mei-ling was also a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow in South Korea in 2007 studying contemporary Korean ceramics.
Her sculptures exhibited in the Art in Embassies, Seoul exhibition, are meticulously formed from steel hex netting using needle-nose pliers. These wire abstractions are a means to consider the cultural perceptions of clouds. Various cultures assign wide ranging interpretations to clouds. In India and Vietnam clouds are the vehicles on which their gods arrive, while in Thailand the clouds massing on the horizon signal the end of the hot dry season and the coming Thai New Year. In China the word for cloud sounds like the Chinese word for luck, so that a design depicting a repeated line of clouds represents never ending good fortune. The cloud motif in classical Japanese screen painting separates the time and space of multiple events which are represented on a single picture plane. In contrast to the benign imagery of Asian cultures, Western literature often portrays clouds as an ominous foreboding of misfortunes to come.
The cloud sculptures at the American Embassy in Seoul are part of an installation commissioned for the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC in 2005. This installation entitled “Floating Mountains Singing Clouds” was a meditation on the transformation that the airy steel clouds paired with the original flute music wrought on the austere stone structure of the museum. Illuminated or obscured by the vagaries of natural sunlight, the clouds evoked a host of different emotional responses from the viewers walking underneath. Now these clouds will work their magic in the ambassadorial residence in Seoul.
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