Little Humans & Woodcuts



Polluta is an ecotopian artist colony built with air pollution.


In the world of climate change, us big humans will be much less impacted by climate change than our little humans.


To help me conjure up the visuals of Polluta Propaganda woodcuts, I solicited the most creative members of society:


Little humans.



✵✶✺History✵✶✺



Alaska, 2016.

In 2016, as part of Island Institute’s Tidelines Ferry Tour and Nomadic Group Residency Program, I traveled to eight indigenous and rural communities in Southeast Alaska under the theme of climate change. There were four artists in our group. We conducted school and community workshops and roundtables.


(That trip became such a life-changing experience for me as an artist and as a human being. I am still processing that trip six years later. One day, I will share that experience here.)



My very first Polluta school workshop at the SEER school, Sitka, Alaska. 2016.



On this trip, I began sharing the story of Polluta with hundreds of little humans and invited them to design the world of Polluta with me. Each little human drew their own imagination of Polluta. Within a few weeks, I’d accumulated hundreds of Polluta drawings.



My very first batch of Polluta blueprints!


OK…what’s next?


In 2018, when I began to work on Polluta Propaganda woodcuts, I revisited these drawings.


(Meanwhile, I’d conducted more Polluta workshops in Hong Kong and upstate New York, USA and Sydney, Australia.)



Polluta workshop at my alma mater, St. Peter's Primary School, Hong Kong. 2017.

Polluta workshop at Kowloon City Art Festival, West Kowloon Art Park, Hong Kong. 2019.


The more I looked at the drawings, the more I was drawn to the wild imagination and ingenious warped or straightforward creative association. I began creating compositions based on these children’s drawings. Each woodcut was based on a little human’s sketch as a blueprint. Sometimes the springboard is conceptual and sometimes visual.

















Second of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Fragrance in the Air

woodcut (oil-based in on cloud dragon handmade rice paper)

Image size: 18x23.5in. / 45x60cm

Edition 9+2 (for more info on editions, click here)

2018

Chinese text on the print: Fragrance in the Air


Little Human: Connor, aged 10

Workshop: Evergreen Elementary School, Wrangel, Alaska, USA, 2016



Mr. Conor’s idea of flying elephants producing floating dung is ingenious! Now the floating dung 2.0 has progressed to rainbow-coloured in the Polluta short film!









Twenty-first of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Tree House

woodcut (oil-based in on cloud dragon handmade rice paper)

Image size: 18x23.5in. / 45x60cm

Edition 9+1

2021

Chinese text on print: Great Harvest with a Rich Life


Little Human: anonymous

Workshop: Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2018



Pretty self-explanatory. I threw in a few extra chimneys, traditional Chinese cloud motifs and a few more leaves. And the ribbon framing motifs so popular in Chinese modern propaganda posters.






















Twenty-second of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Grandiosity

woodcut (oil-based in on cloud dragon handmade rice paper)

Image size: 18x23.5in. / 45x60cm

Edition 9+1

2021

Chinese text on print: Grandiosity


Little Human: Aurelia, aged 10

Workshop: Sydney, Australia. 2019



When I saw the flying bacon during the workshop, I already knew it would make its way into my composition. I accentuated the kitschy bacon angels with two roasted pig heads enjoying karaoke and an exotic oriental gate. If we have angels, I guess we need a god-like figure. Here, we have our roasted pig (transformed by Polluta resident pigs) in its full-body glory, bathing in a halo of light.























Twenty-third of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Super Elephants!

woodcut (oil-based in on cloud dragon handmade rice paper)

Image size: 18x23.5in. / 45x60cm

Edition 9+1

2021

Chinese text on print: Eagerly Delivering Chinese Ink and Sculpture Art Supplies

Nurturing Delicate Artistic Inspiration


Little Human: Lee Lok Yee, aged 13

Workshop: Lutheran School for the Deaf, Hong Kong, 2019



The flying elephants, dressed in superman outfits, climb up the red bean stalk. When I carved this piece, it was when I read through the entire university library system of woodcut books. I really enjoyed trying new techniques with complicated lines.











Twenty-sixth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Comrade Pigs!

woodcut (oil-based in on cloud dragon handmade rice paper)

Image size: 18x23.5in. / 45x60cm

Edition 9+1

2021

Chinese Text on Print: Salute to the Sacrificed Pig Comrades!


Little Human: Cheng Ka Ho, aged 19

Workshop: Lutheran School for the Deaf, Hong Kong, 2019



This little human’s simple drawing was super to the point. Polluta resident pigs eat up all food waste from the kitchen and canteen and are transformed into salted ham and roasted pork every Chinese New Year!


I tidied up the composition and added ornamental details. In case you also read my last blog post, I remember now! The sheep came from the little human’s drawing!













Twenty-seventh of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Giant Tortoise

woodcut (oil-based in on cloud dragon handmade rice paper)

Image size: 18x23.5in. / 45x60cm

Edition 9+1

2021

Chinese Text on Print: Shouldering the Green Mission


Little Human: Leung Chin Chen, aged 18

Workshop: Lutheran School for the Deaf, Hong Kong, 2019



The original sketch is quite beautiful already. I loved the concept of a turtle carrying the entire world. Friend and historian Dr. Kevin Kim shared this image with me! I just had to work it into the composition!






✵✶✺



I get asked often whether these little humans get to see the finished artworks. Unfortunately, due to the movement of the student population and the sheer number of workshops the schools go through, it has not been successful. I hope one day some of these little humans will be able to spot their own works.



Polluta workshop at my alma mater, St. Peter's Primary School, Hong Kong. 2017.


✵✶✺


Love what you are seeing? Check out The Animal Collection of Polluta Propaganda Woodcuts.


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