Art Can Be Made From Anything: The Incredible Work of Red Hong Yi

 

A while back I happened upon an article that featured an amazing portrait of Jackie Chan made from chopsticks. The imagination and skill on display were incredible. That was my first exposure to the art of Red Hong Yi, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

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Photo from redhongyi.com

Red has done many more amazing works created from unusual materials, from using tea bags to painting with a basketball or celery stalks. All are well worth looking up. For this blog I’m going to concentrate on the projects of hers I was lucky enough to be a part of or see in person.

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Art for Nepal

Red has done a number of projects recently focused on compassion and being meaningful. The first that caught my eye was shortly after the Nepal Earthquake, when she decided to make use of her desire to more cartoon style ink drawings to raise money for the victims. Donations were made directly to World Vision Australia, and Red did 100 A5 size drawings of subjects of the commissioners choice. I had one done of my niece and nephew with Skylanders characters (as they’re both big fans). It came out fantastic and they were very happy with the results. 🙂 I was thrilled to have been a part of the project for such a great cause, and admire Red greatly for coming up with such a wonderful way to involve her fans and for all the work she did for this.

Free to Be

My “involvement” in the Free to Be concert was limited to getting one of the commemorative t-shirts with a personalized message from Red on the back, but it was another wonderful project centered around an important cause. The event in Melbourne was held to raise money to fight human trafficking, and Red did a live painting (her first) with duo Big Picture Stuff during the three hour concert.

 

100 Meaningful Things

Early in 2015 Red posted on Facebook about the impact and meaning of objects and asked people to share photos and stories about their most meaningful objects. All kinds of wonderful stories and items were shared, including heirlooms and numerous other types of things bearing personal significance. I loved the idea and thought a bit about what type of thing to share. I decided on something that was tied to a specific memory, as well as being representative of several aspects of my life.

dreamhunters

I shared the above photo and wrote: “I’m going to go with my copy of Dream Hunters. I’ve been a lifelong comic book fan. It’s influenced me a great deal creatively and I have wonderful memories of getting into it via random packs my parents would get me. This particular book is done by two of my favorite creators, and during my first year in NYC I spent 5 hours in line with two of my best friends to get it signed (which included a sketch from the artist on the spot). We had a surprisingly good time for such a long wait, and the creators were still gracious and going strong 3+ hours after their advertised time. So it has a lot of memories attached, is a unique piece of my collection, and represents both my hobbies and the place that has become my new home for many years.”

It was a great to read the various stories from everyone and stood out in my mind as a wonderful activity.

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Photo from redhongyi.com

At the end of 2015 Red turned this wonderful activity of sharing into something even greater during the exhibition 100 Meaningful Things. She chose 100 stories and (with each person’s permission) created an exhibit where photos of the person and their object along with the story were attached to white balloons floating at various heights. For me this couldn’t have been done any better. The exhibit was beautiful in its simplicity and was structured to encourage interactivity as viewers read the shared stories. I was thrilled when contacted about having mine included.

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Photo of goofy looking me and my item for the exhibition.

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Red working on “Girl” for an exhibition at UNIQLO.

Boy and Girl

The last project I’ll talk about here happened just this past Friday. As part of UNIQLO’s “sock week” (yes, really 🙂 ) they had Red come to their first store in NY and create an exhibit using socks. There was a meet and greet to open the exhibit, during which we got to see the final little bit finished then meet and chat with Red.

As usual I was amazed with the creativity of her vision and it was quite interesting to watch her work on it. Continuing the theme signed pairs of socks were handed out. I really like the piece and will be stopping by next week to see the companion work (which had installation issues at the time and wasn’t available for viewing).

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Getting to finally meet her in person was of course awesome. I had a wonderful time and it was fascinating to get to chat with her about her projects.

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Beyond just the unusual nature of the materials she uses, Red’s art is marked with outstanding creativity in vision as well. I adore her work and look forward to see what she has in store going forward. 🙂

 

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