General Merchandise by Linda Ding
My work interprets the complexities of mass produced goods and television commercials. Alongside simplified colors and forms drawn from food packaging, my work delves into bridging the consumer cultural divide as a first generation American. I am influenced by television programs such as the Simpsons, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune. Watching television and movies is how I connect to American culture and humor. From infomercials and “As Seen on TV” products, cheap and readily available consumer goods have come to epitomize American standards of abundance and wealth. I continue to seek the symbolic meaning found in objects through their commodity value and representation.
I assemble materials from discarded manufactured products, scrap metal, paint, papier-mâché, cast bronze and aluminum to make sculpture. These material choices are a collected view of my cultural identity through discarded or out of date fashions. I am piecing together a version of American life and experience of immigrants navigating an unfamiliar landscape through an assessment of material value of goods and products.
Product branding and packaging provide a sense of comfort for consumers because they promote convenience and reliability. Establishing trust through an image of everyday tasks made simple, puts a buyer at ease by soothing a consumer through the difficulty of deciding what is the “best” choice. Immigrant assimilation corresponds to this notion because of the many unknown or unfamiliar customs manifested in everyday life. Finding familiarity through consumer products bridges the gaps in language and cultural identity.
Linda Ding is a multi-media sculptor from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her work confronts notions of cultural identity through representations of food imagery from popular American culture. She often integrates elements of her family history and Chinese ancestry throughout her work. Ding received her Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2010 and later received her Master in Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati in 2014. Her work has been exhibited at the Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio and the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Ohio as well as Hamilton, New Jersey at the Grounds for Sculpture and Berlin, Germany at the Kunsthochschule Weissensee. Her honors include the 2014 International Sculpture Center Outstanding Student Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.