Mass: Anxiety and Hope

Ink on canvas
30 x 30 in | 76.2 x 76.2 cm
2022

Assembled from visitors’ responses to Chang’s past installations, over one hundred handwritten reflections form a communal portrait of hopes and anxieties in the early 21st century. Ranging from societal anguish to individual fortitude, each sentiment interlocks into a shifting mass of voices: I’m losing my hair — we’re losing our privacy — I need to be forgiven — we don’t know how to help him — our country is on the edge of disaster — I have over $120,000 in student debt — we’re building things we don’t understand — there is still so much music left to discover — I am letting go of old patterns — my friend supports me — God still works — I want to be honest with myself — I woke up early today — I have been through hell and I am still here.

Chang hand-cut and burnished each response, excavating sediments of paper until only black ink remained infused in the canvas. The results speak to traditional Chinese reproductions of venerated texts using ink such as ink rubbings, which could be considered the first “copy machine” of text. Presented as white writing on black strips, each sentiment evokes the shape of redacted words, a common practice in WWII soldiers’ letters home to censor emotions that might hinder faith in war-time efforts. Now these same shapes serve as a collective portrait of the fears, joys, and struggles that consume our minds today.