Through these works, Liu places her personal vulnerabilities front and center, in a way that’s particularly disarming coming from a very private Hollywood actor, who even used a pseudonym to show her art up until 2011 (she went by her Chinese name, Yu Ling).
The works embody the sense of safety that Liu yearned for as a child, and she hopes that the audiences can feel that. “What you want is someone to feel [a sense of] safety when looking at your work, so they can feel it, too, for themselves,” she added. Though not groundbreaking, the pieces do resonate in their ability to reveal a person’s deepest vulnerabilities and yearnings.
Some of Liu’s most interesting work—which is not shown in the current exhibition, but which she recently discussed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert—explores the human spine. This series, called “Totem,” includes pieces made up of various media, such as biological drawings stitched onto canvas, along with the occasional affixed found object. According to Liu, this series represents the various disconnections people experience, even though we are all made up of the same materials. The series also references the connection between emotions and physical pain; for example, when someone has back and shoulder aches, it may seem physical, but could also be the result of emotional distress.