Sparked by curiosity and the desire to explore her roots, artist Colette Fu began traveling to China’s Yunnan Province where 25 of the nation’s 55 minority tribes live. While there, she was able to experience and document the customs of many groups, including the Black Nuosu Yi tribe of which her mother and Roanoke resident Pearl Fu is a member. The artist’s long immersion in the unique cultures of Yunnan culminated in a spectacular collection of intricate pop-up books and photo collages called We Are Tiger Dragon People.
This exhibition not only follows Fu’s work in China, but also showcases earlier artworks inspired by unique destinations around the United Sates, demonstrating Fu’s process from photography to meticulously composed collages brought to life through lightboxes and three dimensional structures. Fu’s centerpiece of the exhibition is the world’s largest pop-up book titled Tao Hua Yuan Ji, which measures 13.8 x 21 feet when open. This massive paper structure, inspired by a Jin Dynasty poem about a secret utopian valley, depicts a cave ensconced in giant peach blossoms that Fu visited in 2008. Standing nearly 5-feet tall at its apex, the paper cave is large enough to crawl inside.
Colette Fu: We Are Tiger Dragon People is generously supported by the City of Roanoke through its Arts Commission and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. It is curated by Eva Thornton, Assistant Curator for the Taubman Museum of Art, and is on display February 2 – September 8, 2019, in the Medical Facilities of America Gallery and Temporary Exhibition Gallery.