By Natalie Lasky
Eva Kwong, an international artist, has been inspired by the bacteria found within the human body. She came to Youngstown State University to exhibit her work at a show after it was noticed at the Anderson Ranch by the director of the McDonough Museum of Art, Claudia Berlinski.
Kwong was initially inspired by art after a classmate told her to use a free pass to get into the local art museum. Since then, her passion for art has been combined with curiosity of bacteria, because of the memories of her childhood.
As a child, Kwong’s mother used to bathe her in disinfectant so she would not get sick. As she grew older, Kwong began to take more interest in bacteria and microbes.
“I did not realize until after I started making all these pieces that I did not realize my mother was a germaphobe and of course, I did not know that more for the longest time. But she used to disinfect us, but I thought of course all kids did not have the same extreme summertime,” Kwong said. “I used to ask my mother what the germs look like and she said, well, they are invisible. We do not know. Nobody knows, but how do you know it exists if it is invisible?”
Kwong submitted her first work of art while in high school to a museum and launched her career as a professional artist. Obtaining her higher education throughout the 1970s, Kwong began gaining exposure within the art scene.
Kwong has made art for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as exhibitions across the globe focusing on bacterial art.
“I had a chance to be invited to a show in Atlanta at the CDC, they called me and I didn’t know they had an art gallery,” Kwong said.
Kwong has shifted her focus to 3D clay print art and showcased a 3D exhibition at the YSU’s McDonough Museum of Art over the month of September. Each piece of art has a backstory and inspired her to develop a collection of 3D print art.
“This [3D polylactic acid art piece] reminded me of somebody falling over an older person, you know, as I’m also getting older myself or a failed organ that collapsed like, you know, I’ve had students who have collapsed lungs,” Kwong said.
Claudia Berlinski, director of the McDonough Museum of Art has known Kwong for a long time. When Berlinski found out Kwong was making art after taking a several year break, she reached out to Kwong about doing the show at YSU. Using 3D PLA for Kwong’s art that is focused on bacteria, Berlinski said she became interested in having an exhibition at YSU.
“I saw that she had some clay pieces that she had printed. 3D printed at Anderson Ranch, which is an artist residency … The way she was photographing them and combining the plastic and clay pieces together on a pedestal. It just really affected me. I thought it was brilliant,” Berlinski said.
For those interested in learning more about Kwong’s career and collection, her artwork can be found on her website.