The Mentoring Program, by Molmol Kuo
at Queens Museum, 2017
It is a four months long program, designed to support local residents and artists of Queens Borough to continue their exploration in art and media.
Meet the Mentees of 2017 Program
Focus interview : Maritza Wu
Maritza Wu’s presentation includes a book, a film, and a dining table. The work explored her cultural identity as Chinese growing up in South America through her favorite folktales, preference of color and names in different culture. She experimented different medium to express the contrast and clashes in her upbringing.
It is extremely interesting for me to work with a new artist who had just begun to explore her tools and canvas, who started her journey through learning and trying different style and techniques, and found her own discovery in the process within this past four months. It was an honor for me to observe Maritza’s process from ideas to realization, and noticed the excitement, the retreat, the hurdles to overcome disappointment and creative road block, the frustration, the magic of a deadline, and the creator’s enthusiasm to work day and night to finish the project, and the passions along this process.
I feel very positive with Maritza’s progress during the mentoring program, and I hope that this process will help build her confident as an artist and her knowledge of resources she could utilize in the future.
Maritza was born in China. When she was one year old, her parents who were farmers at that time, in search of a better life for their children, decided to move away from China with hopes to become US citizens. Upon leaving China, Maritza’s parents decided to temporarily relocated to Columbia and stayed with a relative, with the hope that their green card applications would soon be approved and they would eventually reunite with Maritza’s grandparents in the US, and started a new life. Frequently, they reminded and reassured Maritza and her brother that one day, New York would be their final home and a better life awaited, and the city which they were living in was just a small interruption of their plan.
picture (provided by artist) of the artist (from the left second), her mother, and her cousins.
picture (provided by artist) Image Left: On rare occasions, the artists wearing a white dress at her Junior High School graduation. Image Right: High School graduation, a little before becoming a US green card holder and moving to Queens, New York.
As a child, Maritza felt like an outsider in her city near the Amazon River in Columbia. The things that comforts her the most were the Chinese fable stories that were told at home by her parents, as well as the folktales and local legends taught at schools and by next door neighbors. For her, the shape of the moon or sound of rain falling on the Amazon river all reminded her of the popular stories and from both cultures. Her childhood was also full of different flavors of homemade Chinese food and Columbian dishes. And she was dressed with Chinese lucky colors instead of in black and white like the other local kids.
picture (provided by artist) : a weekend with the neighbors and lunch by the river.
However, it took almost 18 years, until Maritza and her family were finally awarded their green card status. The news came suddenly, right after Maritza graduated from high school, confused and unsure, as a teenager, Maritza moved to Flushing, Queens with her parents.
She said she had never felt so at home as soon as she walked down Flushing Avenue in Queens for the first time. She had never seen so many faces and skin that looked just like hers. And she had felt that she fit right in, and had been living in Flushing since.
Maritza is now a professor at Queen borough community college. She studied at City Tech College, and Stony Brook College, and earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Electrical engineering.
Some images from the artist’s exploration of different medium and on her learning process during the mentoring program.