“the moon,” a new series of drawings from crystal liu.

like all of her work, these use nature as metaphor to explore human emotion.   her inconography of trees, water, rocks, mountains, clouds and the stars and moon recount stories, or maybe it’d be more accurate to say open-ended fables.   because even after you’ve deciphered her symbolic language, it’s never really certain what’s going on.

of course, that’s what makes them interesting…   every viewer brings their own interpretation based on their experience (and issues).  think of them as psychological landscapes.  or representational rorschachs.

is the tree supporting the moon here?  a gentle caress? a tender embrace?   or is the moon pushing the tree around?  bullying.  holding it down.  turning it into a bent thing… incapable of reaching its potential?

is the moon an obligation?  a burden?  you know the expression, “the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

Image 1

perhaps the moon is illuminating the reflection of the birch…  the lamp in a portrait of self-evaluation.  trees, in liu’s vocabulary, certainly represent people…   bundles of secret hopes, insecurities and longings.

and as is always the case, when there are more personalities involved, things gets more complicated.

Image 3

reflections, crystal says, might actually be another place.  otherworldly.  an alternate reality.  perhaps a dream.   are the two trees sharing the same dream?   joseph conrad’s the secret sharer comes to mind…

or are they jousting?    now i’m thinking of the stories of male elk who lock horns over a potential mate…  then starve to death when they can’t break free.



Image 2

“the moon was so beautiful, that the ocean held up a mirror.”    — ani difranco, everest, track 6 on up, up, up


in this series, there’s a sense of reaching…   of striving toward something.  i think maybe they’re about an attempt find the unattainable.  or maybe they’re about something else entirely.


each work is made of watercolor, gouache, ink and gold leaf on paper and is 15 inches square.