Divine Immersion: The Experiential Art of Nick Dong

Published on Jun 9, 2021

Artist Nick Dong meditating in Heaven

USC Pacific Asia Museum is pleased to announce Divine Immersion: The Experiential Art of Nick Dong. In recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive loss of life and systematic degradation of Asian American belonging, artist Nick Dong leverages the power of experiential art, grounded in Buddhist spirituality as a vehicle to nurture healing and engender a connection to oneself and others.

Taiwanese-American and Oakland, CA-based artist Nick Dong (b. 1973) identifies as a 21st-century continuation of Wen-ren, the Chinese cultural lineage of intellect-scholars. Each work is a quest for self-evolution, a vehicle for sharing philosophy. By carefully integrating scientific and handcrafted components, supernatural movements, light, sound, and interactive strategies, Dong’s artworks produce a fully immersive event, only complete when the viewer activates it with their energy. Dong formulates his work to be incomplete without the viewer. He hopes each work ignites an encounter that opens up new perspectives about each other and the world and illuminates the beauty in our broken places, thus creating space for hope and healing.

Converging his training as an artist and engineer with thousands of years of the Buddhist tradition, 21st-century technology, Dong’s work nourishes the transformative potential of this moment — toward human wholeness, imperfections encouraged and included.

Divine Immersion: The Experiential Art of Nick Dong will feature five experiential works:

Exploring the concept of gravity and playing with perception and reality are themes in Dong’s sculptures from his Divine Moments series. For this body of work, he collaborates with composers to create original soundtracks for each object. With the help of engineers, he incorporates levitation technology, programming the sculptures to create a choreographed performance.

The kinetic sculpture, soundscape titled Immersion, tunes the attention of the visitor to listening. Taking a seat on one of the meditation mats provided, each visitor is invited to explore quiet as presence — not an absence of sound but an absence of noise, an opportunity to take in the world and find presence and peace through their ears.

In Becoming Horizon, the visitor is immersed in an experience of kinetic sculpture, dancing light, and music. Considering the Big Bang theory as a point of departure, Dong is inspired by the ethereal events that created the universe: from its beginning as a small, hot, dense point to the explosion and rapid expansion of space, and ultimately, the formation of matter into our current galaxies.

Heaven transports visitors to a place where their earthly accomplishments, fears, pressures, and material belongings fall away. This is a heaven that welcomes all, and all are welcome. Heaven asks visitors to not ponder this as a place but reflect on it as a heavenly state of being, a state of the heart.

The Mendsmith Project is a live-crafting social service project to engage an audience and bring positivity to grief. Dong asks visitors to the exhibition recovering from a loss to bring two jewelry pieces or other small objects of personal significance to be “mended,” one belonging to the visitor and one belonging to the visitor’s loved one. During the scheduled consultation, Dong will ask the visitor to share their story. Through his artistic metalsmithing process, Dong will draw the beauty and joy of the object representative of the visitor’s memories to embrace new possibilities. The community member leaves with a new mended piece to remember forward. The Mendsmith Project will take place from Thursday, July 15 to Sunday, July 25. To apply to participate in the Mendsmith Project, please fill out the form here. Limited spots are available.

Nick Dong 董承濂 was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and resides in Oakland, CA. He is a conceptual metalsmith, mixed-media sculptor, and socio-commodity engineer whose artistic practice rests at the intersection of spiritual inquiry, social healing, science, and a myriad of arts media. He received his BFA from Tung-Hai University in Taiwan and his MFA in metalsmithing and jewelry from the University of Oregon. He has taught at California College of the Arts in Oakland, Chu-Jai-Jao Specialty High School in Shanghai, Musée Tomo in Tokyo, Mart Tiller in Taipei, Gallery FLUX in San Francisco, and the University of Oregon in Eugene. Dong’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Mercury 20 Gallery, Oakland; San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design; Kunstbanken Museum, Norway; and MOCA Taipei, Taiwan, among others. In 2012, Nick Dong presented a site-specific installation at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2016, Dong completed a large-scale installation for the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Divine Immersion: The Experiential Art of Nick Dong is made possible with funding and support from the Taiwan Academy and the Pasadena Arts Alliance.

Learn more at pacificasiamuseum.usc.edu.

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