Ranran Fan uses the words found in the Chinese book “I Ching” as a point of inspiration.
“I use this book a lot on a daily basis for depression relief,” Fan said.
The book was published in the late ninth century and serves as the basis for his exhibit, “Walking on Transience,” on display at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory through May 13.
There will be a reception from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 8. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Fan, a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, said the process for “Walking on Transience” took several months to create.
She started forming ideas and building concepts last summer.
“In the past, people in China used this book to predict what was going to happen in the world and in their personal lives,” Fan said. “It’s a book with 64 different situations that a person or a country could encounter at any time, so when I read ‘I Ching’, I’m actually using it as a kind of self-therapy.”
For Fan and others, “I Ching” is still influential to this day.
“It’s a very abstract book, so a lot of people might interpret it in different ways,” Fan said. “This book is also about living and doing, which helped me with my experience in the United States as a foreigner and a woman of color.”
Fan was born in China and is based in Albuquerque, as she pursues a master’s degree in studio art.
“I received most of my college education in the western world, so I use a lot of scientific methodology in my work,” Fan said. “I model much of my art using both Western and Chinese cultures.”
Fan continued her graduate studies after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Hong Kong Baptist University.
As she saw art from the Western Hemisphere, Fan gained an appreciation for both styles.
“I think American art is more straightforward and lexical, while Chinese art is more descriptive and insightful,” Fan said. “I think both are visual languages that are also influenced by linguistic languages.”
Fan also served as a teaching assistant and tutor in math and science in Chicago.
This year, Fan received the 2022 Exceptional Visual Artist Scholar award from the Sanitary Tortilla Factory. The EVAS series provides a professional space for graduate students during their final thesis.
“I think this program at UNM is very amazing because they gave me three to four years to just focus on my own practice,” Fan said. “It’s the main reason I came here, and also because the people here are so generous and helpful.”
Fan specializes in installation, photography and performance. His work has been shown internationally, including SITE Santa Fe, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (China), Academy Art Museum of Maryland, Santa Fe Art Institute, Tamarind Institute, as well as than at the Incheon Marine Asia Photography and Video Festival in Korea. She was also nominated as a SITE Scholar at SITE Santa Fe in 2020. Fan has won several awards, including the Shiseido Photographer Prize at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center (China, 2018) and the Student Award for Innovations in Imaging at the Society for Photographic Education. (USA, 2019).
“Xu Bing is a Chinese artist whom I really admire and appreciate,” Fan said. “He wrote a book called ‘Book From (the) Sky’ in which he creates a language that no one can read or understand.”
For Fan, making his work accessible is central to his vision.
“This approach is really what I look for in my work,” Fan said. “I want it to be something that is equally accessible to everyone.”