Department of Fine Arts
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Instagram: _victoriashi and _victoriashiart
Victoria Shi is a Chinese Canadian student at the University of Waterloo. Born and raised in Toronto, she frequently centres her art around the female form, focusing on cultural identity and the social perception of femininity and womanhood. Her paintings often take on elements of sculpture—for example, incorporating layers of resin to achieve a variety of textures and the appearance of depth. She now lives in Waterloo where she studies Knowledge Integration and Fine Arts.
Fruit is something that has long been considered a strong representation for the female body. In addition to some vague anatomical similarities suggesting sex and genitalia, the comparisons between fruit and femininity extend far beyond physicality. Socially upheld beliefs connote the two with specific descriptors – sweet, fertile, and consumable, for example. Divine uses this association as a means to subvert the male gaze and the harmful stereotyped image of the female body and femininity. The fetishized Asian female form consuming the fruit suggests freeing the ‘self’ and the conquering of external constraints.
Rather than a sensuous visual experience, Divine rejects expectations and is instead far more visceral, ravenous, and powerful. The juice and flesh of the berries are layered with resin to incorporate 3-dimensionality into the piece while also highlighting the abject. The work is also shown mounted on a wall covered in blackberry wallpaper, sardonically referencing the idea of the stereotyped ‘woman’ by emphasizing the imagery of fruit, and inserting home décor elements and pattern in a formal gallery space. This is also a dismantling of the ‘white cube’ in art, the modernist aesthetic devoid of alternate ways of knowing and intersectionality.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.