51 episodes

Seeing Color is a podcast that talks with cultural workers and artists of color in order to expand the area of what is a predominantly white space in the arts. With discussions shifting between art and race, Zhiwan Cheung hashes out with guests a range of topics about the creative process in a white-dominated art world.

Seeing Color Zhiwan Cheung

    • Visual Arts
    • 5.0, 19 Ratings

Seeing Color is a podcast that talks with cultural workers and artists of color in order to expand the area of what is a predominantly white space in the arts. With discussions shifting between art and race, Zhiwan Cheung hashes out with guests a range of topics about the creative process in a white-dominated art world.

    Episode 48: Haiti Does Not Have The Copyright To Tragedy (w/ Jean-Ulrick Désert)

    Episode 48: Haiti Does Not Have The Copyright To Tragedy (w/ Jean-Ulrick Désert)

    Hey everyone. I hope all is well with y'all as this new normal of COVID-19 is settling in. I don't have too much news...still awaiting returning to China and still not sure I can be physically there by the fall semester. I have a few logistical things with my living situation in China that is causing some headaches but otherwise I am safe in the US. One small thing I am part of is this video project curated by Isaac Leung of Videotage in Hong Kong. My video is showing on Videotage's website but it is also all over public screen in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal...so I guess if you happen to be in Lisbon, you might see my video at random street corners. I'll post a link or two on instagram.

    Anyway. For today, I am talking with Jean-Ulrick Désert, a conceptual and visual artist born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti before his family fled to the US. Originally trained as an architect from Cooper Union and Columbia, Jean-Ulrick got drawn to art and never looked back. He left his architecture job and traveled to France before ending up in Berlin, where he has been since 2002. He most recently represented Haiti at the 2019 Venice Biennale, although the project ran into a few roadblocks keeping it from being fully realized, which we discuss in our discussions. I met Jean-Ulrick through my good friend, Yvette Robertson, who I interviewed in Episode 31. Jean-Ulrich and I chat for quite a while in this episode, but Jean-Ulrick had so many gems that I kept most of it. Our conversation includes how language can reconfigure one's brains, the function of art titles, and thinking about art as healing. I hope you enjoy it.

    • 2 hr 24 min
    Episode 47: Knowing Your Self-Worth (w/ Celeste Smith)

    Episode 47: Knowing Your Self-Worth (w/ Celeste Smith)

    Hey everyone. I hope you are doing well. I am trying to enjoy the summer the best I can by avoiding groups of people. I have been doing a lot of reading these past few weeks, which has been nice. I also spoke with Tereneh last week, a previous guest on the show, who is thinking of starting her own podcast with a few friends which I am looking forward to listening to. Shoutout to Tereneh! Check out my chat with Tereneh on Episode 8, which seemed so long ago.

    Speaking of long ago, I have been thinking a lot about my own process in getting my episodes out since the beginning. When I started recording 2 years ago, I was in Pittsburgh for the summer and about to leave for Germany. I decided to record as much as I could before my flight to Berlin, giving me time to see what my habits were in the process of interviewing others and finding my own voice in the process. I figured if I could get around 26 interviews, I would have a year of material for a bi-weekly podcast. I ended up with 28 episodes and released my first episode on September of 2018. Of course, this meant I had a huge backlog of material that was not always current which I slowly worked through, with some episodes continually getting pushed back as I proceeded interviewing new people while in Europe. Since my classes have ended for the summer, I had the time to go deeper into my archives and listen to older interviews, one of which I am releasing this week.

    So for today, I am interviewing Celeste C. Smith, a co-founder and current board member of 1Hood, a collective of artists and activists who utilize art as a means of raising awareness around issues affecting oppressed people in the region and around the world. Celeste is also the current Program Officer for Arts and Culture at The Pittsburgh Foundation, a position she just started when I interviewed her. Celeste is a graduate of Chatham University and has served on the Transformative Arts Process Advisory Board at The Heinz Endowments, the Pittsburgh Symphony Community Advisory Council and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Equity in Arts Funding Research Committee. I visited Celeste at her office in Downtown Pittsburgh, which is located in a literal glass castle designed by Philip Johnson, who is most famous for his Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Celeste and I chatted about her many projects at the intersection of art and activism, self-care, building support for the youth, and knowing your self-worth. I regret it has taken this long, but after listening through, I felt Celeste's words still resonate strongly, if not more, today. I will have another older episode next time as well. Thank you Celeste for your patience. I hope everyone enjoys this.

    • 54 min
    Episode 46: A Space Where Gravity Is Legible (w/ Didier William)

    Episode 46: A Space Where Gravity Is Legible (w/ Didier William)

    Hey everyone. I hope you are doing well and staying safe. I don't have too much news to share these days. It seems like this whole virus situation is here to stay and I am uncertain I will be able to return to China anytime soon for work. If the EU is refusing travelers from the US, I would assume China to do the same, and for good reason. But I don't have too much to complain about as I have a roof over my head in a rural area that is OK for now in terms of ou breaks. I have been thinking more about the future direction I want to take this podcast as I normally have been interviewing friends and others I have met in person, but with the current situation, I have been thinking about expanding out. Of course, I am a bit nervous about moving forward this way. I have a number of interviews I still need to release before this happens, but the time will come soon enough. It may be for the better for this podcast.

    In any case, for today, I am interviewing Didier William. Originally from Port-au-prince Haiti, Didier moved to Miami as a Creole-speaking 6-year old. His interests in art blossomed there and he went on to earn his BFA in painting from The Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University. Currently, Didier is Assistant Professor of Expanded Print at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. I first met Didier while I was at a residency in Vermont this past winter and was able to interview him around March, just as COVID's presence began being felt in the US and prior to the recent protests around the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and many others that have surfaced with each passing week. I've been thinking a lot about how I release my episodes weeks, months, and sometimes years after the initial interview and what it means in terms of relevancy. It is something I need to figure out. Anyway, for this interview, Didier and I chat about trying to find agency in stillness, the concious privileging of certain languages, and maintaining an honest conversation about social complexities. Again, stay safe, stay healthy, and I hope you enjoy this.

    • 55 min
    Episode 45: The Struggle Is Continuous (w/ Sonja John)

    Episode 45: The Struggle Is Continuous (w/ Sonja John)

    Hey everyone. I hope y'all are hanging in there. I hope everyone is maintaining social distancing if you can and staying safe and healthy in the mind and body. It took me a bit to start back up with editing the podcasts. I took this time to deep dive back into my unreleased materials that I never got around to releasing for one reason or another and then got too embarrassed to release them so late. But better late than never. So for the next few episodes I'll be going a bit back to some older conversations I had done.

    Anyway, for today, I am chatting with the wonderful Sonja John, a queer first generation New York City-based artist, educator, and poet I met last January in Vermont. Sonja received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017 and her contributions to museum education and visual art have been featured at the RISD Museum, The New Yorker, and Hyperallergic. Drawing from flora and fauna native to her parents' homelands of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Philippines, Sonja's work seeks to interrogate theories of color, belonging, contested geographic and biological bodies, and post-colonial effects on landscape and culture. We talk about these topics and so much more in our conversation. As I edited this episode, I really enjoyed listening to Sonja's laughing and her smart witty commentaries. It made my work much easier, especially since I didn't feel motivated to do edit this week. In any case, I hope you enjoy this episode and I'll be back in two weeks. Stay safe and healthy in the meantime and goodbye for now.

    • 1 hr 30 min
    [Bonus] Some Thoughts and Updates

    [Bonus] Some Thoughts and Updates

    Hey everyone. I have a brief update to share about the show and some thoughts in light of the recent events. But before I do, I want to say loudly and clearly that Black Lives Matter. As an Asian-American, I think about the way anti-Blackness is embedded throughout Asian culture and society. I think about how this anti-Black sentiment showed itself when Asian-American communities rallied around NYPD officer Peter Liang for murdering Akai Gurley. I think about the affirmative action lawsuit against Harvard that Asians supported as being driven by the same anti-Black sentiment. And of course, there was the Hmong-American police officer standing by as George Floyd was murdered. If there is one thing that has driven me to create this podcast, it is the belief that true freedom cannot come at the expense of Black lives. I think silence in anti-Black violence will not give Asian any true place in a racist white supremacist world. The lacking of self-awareness and propagating anti-Black and anti-Brown rhetoric just so certain Asian can get ahead will not lead to a better place. My heart goes out to everyone protesting on the streets and doing the hard work to elevate Black voices and not black squares.

    Regarding this show, I did not release an episode last week. When I sat down to write the intro, no words came out. My podcast and voice seemed trite. I took it as a sign to not release my episode if I had to force words out when they were not ready. I also felt the voices that needed to be heard were Black voices. I then thought about this in relation to remaining silent and don’t have a clear answer. When I set out to make this podcast, I wanted to be able to confront my privilege as a Chinese-American cis male who went to college to study art and is able to travel to residencies while moving through the art world. I wanted to keep talking about race because I don’t believe one simply becomes “woke.” Talking about race is a lifelong commitment that never ends. I am forever learning and figuring out where these conversations fit within the larger picture.

    In lieu of a real episode, I posted on my website a list of resources for anyone interested. There is a lot out there and many of these materials are waiting to be used. Feel free to share and continue the discussion about how white supremacy and racism continues to pervade every aspect of our lives.

    So that’s the update. Again, thank you to everyone who has been supportive of this show as I couldn’t have gotten here without all the guests and listeners. I’ll resume my episodes starting next week. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and good bye for now.

    Image credit: @jerrygogosian
    https://www.instagram.com/jerrygogosian/

    • 3 min
    Episode 44: Being There There Being (w/ Devin Kenny)

    Episode 44: Being There There Being (w/ Devin Kenny)

    Hey everyone. I hope everyone is doing okay. These are really sad and frustrating times with the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the many others that did not get the coverage they deserved. And then there are all the Beckys and Karens out in the world perpetuating white supremacy at Central Park and beyond. This is the time for white allies to speak up and where being neutral is being part of the problem. The prioritization of the destruction of property over black lives is part of the problem. And forcing the celebration of our differences onto the shoulders of a select few is part of the problem. I just hope everyone including me can find it in our heart to have empathy for the situation and create meaningful change, from donating to organizations working to change the situation to joining those very organizations. I've added links in the show notes and on the website to a few resources.

    Of course, these recent events are simply a few in what is a long history of racist actions in a racist country that refuses to look at itself clearly. There is time to honor these lost lives, but there's also needs to go past that and call out all the complacency. I am not saying this to make it about this podcast and I don't even pretend that my podcast is helping in any real meaningful way. I am often at a loss for words at the immensity of the problems we face. In these moments, I try to just keep taking one step at a time, in hopes it is in the right direction.

    Anyway, for today, I am speaking with Devin Kenny, an interdisciplinary artist, writer, musician, and independent curator. Devin takes an experimental, multidisciplinary approach to analyzing the contemporary black experience. Exploring surveillance, abuses of institutional power, and gentrification, Devin balances abstract concepts with material traces of once subcultural but now quite ubiquitous forms of expression such as manga, hip-hop, and internet memes. Devin got his BFA from Cooper Union and received his MFA from the New Genres department at UCLA. Devin is also an alum of the Whitney Independent Study Program and the MFAH Core Program Houston.

    I first met Devin while I was in Berlin and Devin skyped in for a studio visit. We have continued our conversations online since then and I had the chance to have Devin on this podcast recently. We chat about envision ourselves in new ways, thinking about power dynamics through subcultures, and how subcultures can help guide one through the internet. As always, stay safe and stay healthy and I hope you enjoy this.

    Portrait by Troy Montes

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
19 Ratings

19 Ratings

FavyFav ,

One of the best art podcast out there.

Finally, the art podcast I have been waiting for. I was so tired I only listening to white men talk about art. This show is enlightening and refreshing. Thank you, Zhiwan.

Mmmmmnop ,

Thoughtful and reflective!

Great host and interviewees!

VMOZ Arte ,

Great work Zhiwan!! Thank you!

From conversations that this artist has with other artists of color I learned that the challenges and the lack of representation I encountered in college, I did not actually face alone, and although unfortunate, it is very powerful. Zhiwan exposes his audience to artists, curators, and art producers who are paving the WAYS for artist minorities and for that I’m very grateful. Shoutout to episode 26, 18, and 12! After picking a couple of favorites I’m excited to listen to a couple of opuses I haven’t heard in a while!

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