Fiona Tang follows her heart.
Tang, 32, is a Vancouver-based artist who creates everything from towering, immersive drawings to digital art to clay models. She typically draws wildlife, and notes that her compassion for the animal kingdom compels her to choose animals as subjects.
Tang's large-scale pieces offer an engaging perspective between the viewer and her art, which she hopes gives them a sense of wonder.
“Through interacting with these animals, the audience is made aware of the animal’s existence, and I hope to reverse the passive relationship between the viewer and artwork,” says Tang.
"I always turn to nature (for walks in the forest or meditation at the beach) whoever I’m stuck. I also watch a lot of animal documentaries - Sir David Attenborough’s are my absolute favourites and he is my hero - to seek out my next animal."
Tang often works with charcoal, chalk pastel and acrylic in the style of trompe l’oeil. However, she often begins by creating a clay model to use as a reference. And while her work might look the fruit of a lifelong dedication to fine art, Tang pursued her craft as an adult.
"I was actually pursing a degree in science at university, but I wasn't fulfilled by what I was doing. I started dropping classes, and eventually found my passion in art," she explains.
"Skills are something that you can build. Passion isn't something that you can force."
Tang explains how she told her parents that she was a lesbian on the same day that she told them she was dropping her science degree to pursue a career in fine arts. And while it was hard for them to accept at first, she notes that they are fully supportive now.
Tang completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Emily Carr University in May 2014 with a Drawing Major, but she says her science background helps her understand her subjects on a deeper level; she makes a point to research animal behaviour and anatomy before tackling her subjects. However, her work
"The animals help to represent abstracted forms of battles, struggles, or successes in my life. I retain the raw beauty in their forms, the energy, and the story behind the animal to my fullest capability through research. My subject and I truly become one through the act of drawing and my feelings are translated through the intense gestural mark makings and the use of trompe l'oeil," she describes.
By using her skill with light and shadow, Tang's awe-inspiring pieces appear to come right off the wall. Along with their impressive size, she hopes that her art makes viewers feel vulnerable enough to connect with her animal subjects. Further, she hopes that her works will encourage people a deeper connection between people and animals in general.
"We aren't separate from them. We don't have a second home."
The Art of Fiona Tang
Surrey Art Gallery Association will have its first Thursday Artist Talk of the fall season with Tang at the Surrey Art Gallery on Sept. 5 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. titled “Drawing Without Fear.” Admission is free.