Human Skins

Kirk Ke Wang's New Art Center Sarasota Exhibit Tells a Tale of Class Disparity

Kirk Ke Wang is known for his thought-provoking abstract art that opens up dialogue on social issues such as racism and classism.

By Marc Griffin October 26, 2021

Green Spring from Kirk Ke Wang's Human Skins collection

Green Spring from Kirk Ke Wang's Human Skins collection

Image: Kirk Ke Wang

Kirk Ke Wang, a full-time professor of visual arts at Eckerd College and an artist specializing in sculpture, photography and mixed-media art, is currently exhibiting his work in a new Art Center Sarasota exhibition. Wang’s mixed-media exhibition, titled Human Skins, will be on display through Nov. 27.

Human Skins is rooted in the social issues of cultural diaspora, exploring class disparity and the looming environmental crisis that often “result in human suffering and avoidable tragedies.” The piece itself is composed of thrifted materials Wang found at second-hand stores and consignment shops near his studio in downtown Tampa. Wang uses the materials to symbolize the varying degrees of class; chosen articles of clothing, for example, range from dresses once worn by the wealthy to lower-class fashion like knockoff brands.

Blue Waves from Kirk Ke Wang's Human Skins collection

Blue Waves from Kirk Ke Wang's Human Skins collection

Image: Kirk Ke Wang

Other inspiration came from Wang's trip to Cuba with his students. During the trip, they went to a beach, and Wang noticed that, from far away, the water appeared to be made up of a ton of beautiful colors. Still, as he walked closer to the water, he began to notice that the colors from trash floating along the surface. Once Wang found out that most of the trash present at the beach had come from America, he felt compelled to incorporate this imagery into the Human Skins pieces through the arrangement of the art, which can offer different interpretations depending on where you observe it. 

Wang feels he has a responsibility to address social issues through his art. “One of the advantages of being an artist is to use our imagination to heal ourselves,” he says. “We all have traumas and tragedies, especially if you are a minority, but through our imaginations, we are able to create worlds and pieces of art that we get to see ourselves in; ones that tell the stories that never get told.”

The art exhibit began on Oct. 14 and will continue until Nov. 27 at Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

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