Part of what we want to achieve here at Gahyao is to promote the many talents that Asians have to offer, and also to give a piece of home to those who have grown up abroad. Our first artist feature ticks both those boxes.
The dust has settled from HK Walls 2019, we take a few minutes to catch up with Wing Chow.
'if you want it - do it. Don’t be lazy, and always try your best.'
Gahyao : Why don’t we start with an introduction of yourself and where you’re from
Christina : My name is Christina Wing Chow, and I’m from Richmond, VA (USA)
G : Your name, Wing Chow, where’s that from? Our first guess was that it's a Hong Kong name.
C : Wing is my middle name, and yes I’m Chinese. Friends started calling me Wingchow when they learned my full name. I like the meaning of the name and that it’s kind of ambiguous, so yeah it just was a perfect fit.
G : What was it like growing up abroad – did you feel somewhat detached from your roots (some third culture kids feel some sort of identity crisis)?
C : Growing up, there have been countless times I’ve been singled out as being “the Asian one” or as one of “the Asians”. Even in a non-malicious way, it does make you feel a weird sense of not belonging. Now that I’ve been to Hong Kong – where my parents immigrated from, it’s interesting to know what it’s like to be in a place where being Asian isn’t something to notice. But I was born and raised in the US, so I don’t really feel a sense of belonging there either. There’s definitely been a disconnect. But the older I get, the more I do feel the urge to connect with my roots and to learn about what made me who I am.
G : You were in town for HK Walls, can you tell us more about how that came about?
C : Well my parents are from Hong Kong, so I’d always wanted to go. Then I started painting murals a few years ago. When I learned about HK Walls, I put two and two together and reached out to them. I’m stoked there was a wall for my work.
G : We really love the quirkiness of your characters – where does this surrealism sprout from?
C : It’s hard to say exactly where things come from, but I think it’s just how my mind works, and the result of being influenced by things that I’m naturally drawn towards. Everyone’s work is a reflection of themselves somehow.
G : Would you say your style is very much geared towards murals and large scale paintings? Or do you see it slotting in to other mediums? What’s your typical design process?
C : Yes, and no. When I’m working in the studio, my painting process is pretty impulsive and reactive. I usually have a general idea of what I want to do, but I rarely sketch before I paint, and a lot of the time the piece ends up being way different than what I’d expected. I’ve been painting these amorphous forms for a while now, and their nature allows for a lot of improvising- which I love. When painting murals, there’s a lot more planning that has to take place, so it can feel a bit restricting. But I love making big works, and finishing a mural is extremely gratifying.
I’ve noticed I’m starting to plan a bit more when it comes to studio work. So maybe the improvising will come back more in the murals? Haha I guess we’ll see. But I also make a lot of b&w ballpoint drawings, which have a pretty different feel when it comes to creating. Where my painting can be fast and expressive, my drawing is slow and meditative.
G : There’s always the debate about Graffiti vs street art – what’s your take on that?
C : I actually wrote my final high school paper on graffiti vs. street art. I can’t remember what I wrote, but I’m sure it’s better this way haha. But they’re two very different cultures that are both inherently valid and deserve to be seen. It’s interesting to see how they’re blending together.
G : First time in HKG, what were you looking forward to / ended up doing?
C : Everything! Besides paint a good wall, practice my Chinese, and eat really good dim sum, there wasn’t anything specific I planned to do or see. I just wanted to experience the culture, make friends, and be open to whatever fun things came my way. And I definitely did that. But I do have some specific places in mind for the next time I visit.
G : Any tips for people who want to dabble with street art, paintings or murals?
C : I feel like this is the advice everyone gives, but if you want it - do it. Don’t be lazy, and always try your best.
G : What springs into mind when you hear Gahyao (Ga Yau)?
C : I actually just learned that phrase right before I left for HK. An auntie said that to me when she learned I was painting for HK Walls. I understand Cantonese, so I know it means “add oil”. Makes me think of fire, and speed.
G : Lastly, what do you think about our first collection?
C : It feels down to earth, humble, sincere, and full of potential.
G. Where can people find out more about you and your work?
C : Instagram @wing.chow and Website www.wingchowart.com