Of Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, European, and Indigenous ancestry, artist Andrea Chung addresses issues of ecological stewardship and histories of colonialism through her work. The cyanotypes of Sea Change depict underwater life found in the seas surrounding the island of Jamaica. Using an early form of photography that produces rich blue tones, her chosen medium evokes a night dive illuminated by glowing lionfish, whose poisonous spines and elaborate fins provide camouflage among the equally radiant sea grasses and coral. Tropical fish collectors dispose of lionfish in Jamaican waters, far from their natural Indo-Pacific habitats. With no natural enemies and the ability to breed year-round, this invasive species dominates any reef ecosystem. In this sense, lionfish reflect the capacities and behaviors of the humans that introduce them to new environments. As we confront and exploit the global change we have wrought, Chung’s illumination of the lionfish’s impact sheds light on our own role as disruptive agents, unrivaled predators, and hapless victims.
Sea Change, 2017; cyanotype and watercolor on watercolor paper; courtesy the artist and Tyler Park Presents, Los Angeles
Raised in Texas by parents of Jamaican-Chinese and Trinidadian descent, Andrea Chung draws from her multicultural upbringing to examine colonial and post-colonial legacies in the systems, identities, and ecologies of the Caribbean islands. She has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Headlands Center for the Arts.