As Forbes’ recognized 30 Under 30 artists of 2019, Soe Yu Nwe will display stunning ceramics exploring the theme of identity through Buddhist lore in a new exhibition, titled “Hybridized Beings”, at Myanm/art in downtown Yangon on 28 February.
The exhibition will feature more than 15 pieces of delicate work that will be on show in the free gallery until 15 March. In this exhibition, she considers how the religious, spiritual and supernatural shape an individual’s identity and society as a whole.
Her interest in animistic beliefs, folklores and mythology—particularly female figures of Buddhist mythology—is expressed in detailed and visceral sculptures.
Soe Yu Nwe captures the beauty of Naga Mae Daw, the goddess of serpent dragons, after becoming enthralled by the Burmese dragon queen on trips to famous Botataung Pagoda near Yangon River.
Through several imaginings of the head of Naga Mae Daw, the artist explores notions of fertility, spirituality, and the sense of confinement felt by being female in a conservative society such as Myanmar.
The pagoda also held another source of inspiration for Soe Yu Nwe: a shrine to devout Buddhist Mya Nan Nwe, who was said to have reincarnated into a dragon nat, or spirit, after her death in the 1950s.
A name can greatly influence a person’s identity. In Mya Nan Nwe’s case, her family gave her a Chinese nickname, Tree Flower (樹 花). At first, Dragon Flower (龍 花) was suggested but they deemed the name “too masculine” for a girl.
Her mother’s foot is bound to hers in one sculpture, while others include depictions of Naga women and of her hands transforming into garlands in a way reminiscent of the mythical Greek goddess Daphne who morphed into a laurel tree.
“As I reconfigured these symbols and icons, I reflect upon my otherness through conceiving the self as a fluid, fragile and fragmented entity,” said Soe Yu Nwe.
“Through transfiguration of my emotional landscape by poetically depicting nature and body in parts, I ponder the complexities of individual identity in a globalized society.”
Soe Yu Nwe is an artist based in Yangon and the US. After earning her master’s in fine art from the Rhode Island School of Design, she participated in multiple international exhibitions in the US, China, Philippines, Taiwan, and Australia’s largest contemporary art museum, the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art.
She recently joined the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia. “Hybridized Beings” is her third solo show at Myanm/art.
Myanm/art – G-42, Urban Asia Centre, 48th Street (Middle Block), Botataung Township, Yangon