• Joanne Hsieh (MissyChiao)

瞧瞧藝術 ChiaoxArt|一個(真實的)亞裔西部牛仔故事:專訪藝術家郭耀賢

Updated: Apr 4

A (True) Story of an Asian Cowboy: An Interview with Taiwanese American Artist Yowshien Kuo

採訪編輯 Interview and Edited by|謝蕎安 Joanne Hsieh

圖 Image courtesy|Yowshien Kuo 提供

翻譯 Translated by|Joyce Lee


一個亞洲面孔的西部牛仔 - 位居密蘇里的藝術家郭耀賢 (Yowshien Kuo)筆下一位重複出現的角色。他穿梭在一個又一個故事場景,探索當代美國繪畫中未知的領域- 臺裔美籍的藝術。是該得到關注的時候了。

An Asian cowboy - a character that repeatedly shows up in Missouri based artist Yowshien Kuo's paintings; he explores the uncharted territory of an aspect of contemporary American paintings- specifically, Taiwanese American art, that is getting it's long overdue attention.

我的作品有關美國歷史上種族、移民、和少數民族地位

Q:嗨,耀賢,可以和大家自我介紹嗎?請問你目前位於哪裡,會推薦遊客哪些景點?

Hi Yowshien! Can you tell us about yourself? Where are you from and what are your recommendations for visitors when they go to your city?

Yowshien:「我是郭耀賢,是住在美國密蘇里州聖路易斯市的視覺藝術家。聖路易斯市是在美國中部的密蘇里州內最大的城市。此城市以多種事物聞名,包括:安海斯.布希集團,也就是享名國際的百威啤酒製造商。這座城市另一項著名景點,是密蘇里河附近的聖路易斯拱門,這座大型雕塑是由芬蘭裔美國建築師和設計師埃羅.薩里寧所設計的。這座於1963年建造的雕塑,當時是通往西部的門戶象徵。」

My name is Yowshien Kuo. I am a visual artist currently living and working in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. St. Louis is considered the largest city in the state which is centrally located in the U.S.It is a city known for the Anheuser-Busch corporation, makers of the internationally recognized Budweiser beer. St. Louis is also identified by The Arch, a large sculpture by American-Finnish architect and designer, Eero Saarinen located near the Missouri river. This monument originally stood as the symbol for the gateway to the West and was constructed in 1963.


「在從事創作之外,我也在聖路易斯市中三所學校擔任教授,分別是華盛頓大學、瑪麗維爾大學、和聖路易斯社區大學。市內我最喜歡的公共空間,包含普立茲美術館,以及聖路易斯當代藝術館。這兩棟建築物都是日本建築師安藤忠雄所設計的。我也很喜愛華盛頓大學內的坎普爾美術館,以及聖路易斯森林公園,園內有聖路易斯美術館、動物園、和美好的步道,而且皆為免費對外開放。」

Aside from my studio practice I work as a professor at three schools in St. Louis that include, Washington University, Maryville University, and St. Louis Community College. My favorite public places in St. Louis are the Pulitzer Art Museum and Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. Both building designed by the Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. The Kemper Art Museum at Washington University and St. Louis’ Forest Park which has the St. Louis Art Museum, Zoo, and great walking paths, all which are free to the public.


Q:你會如何對陌生人解釋自己的作品?

How would you explain your work to a stranger?


Yowshien:「我的作品受到美國歷史上種族、移民、和少數民族地位等議題的影響。身為亞裔美國人,在美國歷史中,我們的能見度和地位,在文化上幾乎完全看不見。而且直到現今仍然在對美國歷史的貢獻上,努力尋求被重視及認可。我認為亞裔美國人的聲音,也被各自亞裔族群壓抑,這表示不論在美國(整體)或是亞裔社群中,亞裔人士的文化、身份重要性都不受認可。因此,很多人會稱我的創作動力充滿”社會政治性“。」

My work is directly influenced by the history of race, immigration, and minority status in the United States. As an Asian American, historically our voices and roles have culturally been nearly invisible and still struggle today to be heard and identified as contributing to the history of the U.S. I believe Asian Americans are also silenced by our individual Asian communities as well, meaning they are unrecognized as a significant cultural identity in both American and Asian communities they come

from. Therefore, many people may refer to my practice as sociopolitically driven.


我希望我的作品能作為窗口,鼓勵人們探索關於人與人之間的關係

Yowshien:「我希望我的作品能作為窗口,鼓勵人們探索關於人與人之間的關係,其中更重要、更宏大的問題。人類所面對的問題,主要可歸因於「忽視」和「假裝問題不存在」,以及這種固執的態度所產生的後果。歷史與真相的抹滅,造成好幾世代的人們在日常生活各層面,都要面對不平等這場永遠贏不了的抗爭。同化的意思是變得和標準典範一樣,但誰能夠真正被定義為是“標準典範”?」

I hope that the work serves as a window to encourage navigating the much larger and important concerns about our relationships to one another. The problems humanity faces are largely due to ignoring and pretending issues do not exit and the result of these persistent attitudes. The erasure of history and truth has lead to generations facing an everlasting losing battle with inequality in all aspects of daily life. Assimilation means becoming similar to the norm, but who exactly is defined as

the norm?


Q:你的美學受到哪些方面的影響?

What influenced your aesthetic choices?

Yowshien:「我在美學上的選擇,是受到歐洲文藝復興、以及現代藝術和哲學美學以外的傳統藝術影響。以歐洲和美國藝術的角度,人們稱之為"民間藝術",指的是自學的或是裝飾藝術家。我將之作為美國人起源展現出的概念和態度的映照。除了民間藝術的影響,我還併入代表美國支持白人至上系統這一面的視覺象徵物、服裝時尚、及視覺語言。我喜歡將自我美國身份認同的這一面,聲稱為我本人的自我身份的認同,讓我可以感覺在許多美國人眼中從我身上所剝奪的美國民族身份認同,真切確實是屬於我的。」

The aesthetic choices are inspired by traditions of art making that have existed outside of European Renaissance influences and therefore modern artistic and philosophical aesthetics. Many people call these arts, folk arts. in European and American art perspectives. The self-taught or decorative artist. I use this as a reflection of the ideas and attitudes reflected in the origins of the American people. The folk art influence is combined with visual symbols, clothing fashions, and the visual language of the side of America that tends to support a system of white superiority. I enjoy taking that part of my American identity and claiming it as my own so I can feel I have a sense of ownership to my American heritage that has been stripped from my identity in the eyes of many Americans.


Q:可以聊聊身為台灣裔美國人的感受嗎?和你的藝術有多大關聯?你認為自己和你的文化根基連結有多深?

Can we talk about being Taiwanese American? How relevant is it to your art? Do you feel connected to your heritage?

Yowshien:「雖然我出生於美國,但我童年時期主要和來自台灣的家人居住在台灣。我年幼時的記憶深植於台灣,這也是我至今相當珍惜的回憶。表面上看來,我的作品美國氛圍濃厚,因為我使用了大量的美國視覺象徵物。但是作品中敘述的事物,通常都直接來自於將台灣生活文化、以及我作為美國人的生活經驗相比。雖然我對台灣歷史的了解有限,但我在台灣的生活經驗,讓我知道台灣是一個接受多種民族和文化身同認同的國家。對我來說,這讓我對我的台灣血統引以為傲。然而,我對於自身的台灣民族身份認同仍然有許多疑問,並且仍然在學習如何提出切題的問題。」

Although I was born in the U.S., I spent much of my childhood in Taiwan with my family from there. Most of my memories from my youth are rooted in Taiwan, memories I cherish today. On the surface my art appears primarily American because I use so much of America’s visual symbolism. However, the narratives in the the work are often directly rooted to experiences derived from comparing cultural

life in Taiwan with my life as an American. Although my knowledge of Taiwan’s history is limited, my experiences there informed me that Taiwan is a country who’s identity embraces multi-ethnic and cultural identities. For me, this makes me very proud of my Taiwanese heritage. Still, I have many questions regarding my relationship to my Taiwanese heritage as am continuously learning how to ask the right questions.


Q: 這是個人意見,我覺得一個新的“台灣意識”正在成形,並且年輕一代的臺裔美籍人士希望能夠和普羅印象中的“華裔美籍人士“區分開來。這似乎也反映在藝術市場上,台灣身為被邊緣化的國家,仍然在找尋自己的聲音,臺裔美籍的藝術,也是如此。請問你的看法是?

Personally, I think there is a newly formed “Taiwanese identity”, and a desire for the younger generation Taiwanese Americans to be distinguished from the general umbrella of "Chinese Americans". It's also reflected in the contemporary U.S. art scene — there seems to be not much of discussion of Taiwanese American art. What is your take on this?

Yowshien:「我同意你所說的。我也想要將我的台灣民族身份,更清楚的和中國民族身份區分開來。老實說,目前我對兩邊文化差異的理解,都來自於個人體驗到的觀察和網路上讀到的資訊,以及親友間談話時的解釋。我還無法將兩邊文化的差異界定的夠清楚,因次尚未能夠有自信地陳述,因此我很少試圖和亞洲人以外的人們說明這一點。」

I agree with your statement here as well. I do desire to be able to distinguish my Taiwanese heritage from Chinese more clearly. To be honest, at this time I am only familiar with the cultural differences through experienced observation and reading about it online. Including vocal explanations from friends and family. The differences are not clear enough for me to articulate confidently and therefore I seldom try to explain it to non-Asian people.


我的作品尋求有效的管道,來探討種族至上主義、殖民主義、種族憂鬱、以及亞裔美國人能見度的提升

Q:目前在進行哪些創作?

What are you currently working on?

Yowshien:「目前我在進行兩項大型藝術案。一項是2021年初在波士頓的群展中將展出的畫,這個案子可能可讓我在同年中後,有進行個展的機會。另一項是陶瓷作品,內容是製作實物大小的美式橄欖球護肩,並且將之繪製成中國陶器風格。這項案子的研究和專業協助,仍然在初步進行中。」

Currently I am working on two major projects. Paintings for a group show for early 2021 in Boston, MA along with a potential solo exhibition following later that year. Along with a ceramic porcelain project involving life sized American football shoulder pads painted to resemble Chinese Pottery. The research and professional help are still in the early stages for those.

「直到目前,我從2017年到現在的所有作品,似乎都互相呼應。這些作品主要在尋求使用有效的管道,來探討種族至上主義、殖民主義、種族憂鬱、以及亞裔美國人能見度的提升。我認為近期我將創作的不同批作品,都會考量到前面提到的主題。」

At the moment it feels as though all the work since 2017 are in direct conversation from one another. Primarily exploring effective ways to discuss race supremacy, colonialism, racial melancholia, and the ascension of Asian American voices. I do feel that in the near future different bodies of works will be made considering the fore mentioned themes.



Q:可以聊聊你畫作中的圖樣,特別是動物嗎?

Can we talk about the motifs in your paintings, especially the animals?


Yowshien:「動物在我的作品中,有非常重要的地位。作品中的動物象徵雙重性。具體的例子包括史今中外,將某群人比喻為動物,來當作邊緣化這群人的手段。這讓我想到奴隸交易,以及稱中國移民為老鼠,將他們比喻為害蟲。另一方面,動物也可以作為強大的象徵,不論是用在正面的或是負面的比喻上。我們可以在不同的文化中,以及在神話和民間故事中,看見這些雙重比喻。」

The animals are very important in my work. They are there to symbolize duality. Specific examples include the comparison of humans to animals as a tactic to marginalize groups of people throughout history. I think of the slave trade, calling Chinese immigrants rats and comparing them to vermin. On the other hand, the animal can serve as a symbol of power wether it be for the good or the bad. We see these dual meanings across cultures and in mythological and folk tales.



Q:可以聊聊成長過程中,或是成年後的藝術相關學術經歷嗎?

Yowshien:「在成長過程中,我父母很支持我對藝術的興趣。我在台灣和美國都上過許多公立或私人的視覺和音樂藝術課程。我到二十多歲都仍在學音樂,之後才將注意力轉移到認真研習視覺藝術的歷史和執行上。我在大學中的學習,主要著重古典人體繪畫、油彩、和雕塑。這讓我學到如何能細微觀察。」

I grew up with parents who supported my interests in the arts. Taking many public and private lessons in visual and musical arts in both Taiwan and the U.S. I pursued music until my mid-twenties and shifted my focus to the history and practice of visual arts very seriously. My university training emphasized classical anatomy, painting, and sculpture. This taught me how to observe closely.


小時候,常以自身生活為根據創造出另一個世界

Q:誰是你的靈感導師?

Who inspire you or that you look up to?


Yowshien:「啟發我的人主要都是美國的有色人種,因為我能夠對他們的觀點感同身受。我認為詹姆斯.鮑德溫是美國歷史上最重要的作家之一。藝術方面,羅伯特.科萊斯科、赫拉斯.皮潘、和羅娜.辛普森對我的視覺語言都有巨大的影響。」

Many of the people who have inspired me are primarily American people of color, because I can relate to their perspectives. James Baldwin I feel is one of the most important writers in American history. In painting, Robert Colescott, Horace Pippin, and Lorna Simpson have made a tremendous impact on my visual language.


Q:小時後最喜歡做什麼?這和你現在的創作有任何關聯嗎?

What were some of your favorite activities when you were little? Do they have any connection to the work you're doing now?


Yowshien:「小時候,我做過很多場景、短片、道具、戲服、音效、和燈光。VHS家用錄像機是我最喜歡的玩具。我每個週末都在和朋友做這些事。小時候對於以自身生活為根據,去創造出另一個世界的熱忱,讓我發現和現今的我互相呼應。」

As a child I made a lot of creating scenes, short movies, building props, costumes, sound, and lighting. The VHS home recorder was my favorite toy. This is what I did with my friends nearly every weekend. An interest in creating alternate worlds rooted in our own is what I realize to be the through line between then and today.


Q:工作室以外你喜歡做些什麼?

What do you enjoy doing when not in the studio?


Yowshien:「在創作之外,我喜歡的活動有重量訓練、在戶外散步或健行、瑜珈、與朋友及家人相聚、以及看電影。」

Outside of the studio my favorite activities are strength training, outdoor walks or hiking, yoga, socializing with friends and family, and watching movies.


Q:藝術生涯中最難忘的經驗是什麼?

What's your most memorable experience as an artist so far? And the most challenging aspect of being an artist is?


Yowshien:「在我藝術家生涯中,其中一個難忘的回憶,是近期在聖路易斯當代藝術館內舉辦第一場美術館展覽。和美術館工作人員、以及青少年計畫成員一起工作,超乎我想像的提升了我的作品。我的最大挑戰是在期限內完工。」

A memory that stands out to me in my artistic career is recently with my first museum show at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. Working with the museum staff and teen program truly elevated my works more than I could imagine. The most challenging part has been meeting deadlines.


Q:你收到過最好的建議是?

What's the best advice you've received?


Yowshien:「我所收到過最好的建言很簡單,是來自我研究所的指導教授:「無論是在工作室內或外,你都是一位藝術家。」

The best advice i’ve received is simple, “You‘re always an artist inside and outside of the studio.” From my mentor in graduate school.


Q:你有哪些短期以及長期的目標?

What are some of your short/long term goals?


Yowshien:「我的短期目標是在台灣、或是在大型藝術博覽會中辦展。長期的職業目標,則是和努力進行攸關亞裔美國人社群工作的人們,建立長久關係。」

Short term goals are to show work in Taiwan or major art fair. A long term professional goal is to establish relationships with people doing serious work regarding the Asian American diaspora.


Q:你聽哪些類型的音樂?最喜歡的電影或書籍?

What kind of music do you listen to ? What is our favorite movie (or book)?


Yowshien:「我對自己青少年時代的音樂非常懷念,所以我喜歡90年代和2000年代的搖滾和嘻哈音樂。我很常去夜店,所以我也會聽電音。我最喜歡的其中一部電影,是薩亞吉.雷執導的《不速之客》。最喜歡的其中一本書是約翰.史坦貝所著的《小紅馬》。」

I have a lot of nostalgia when it comes to music from my teens and twenties, 90’s and 00’s rock and hip-hop. I also spent a lot of time in night clubs, so electronic music too. A favorite movie of mine is The Stranger by Satyajit Ray. A favorite book is The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.


特別感謝 Yowshien Kuo 郭耀賢

Special Thanks to Yowshien Kuo



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