26 year old article dated October 21, 1992 written by Sandra Schulman.
Wink wink nudge nudge Artist Roly Chang's works addressing cultural identity show off his eye for quirky visual humor. -by Sandra Carol Schulman (XS magazine)
As if art wasn't hard enough to define these days, along comes artist Roly Chang who empolys such media and movements as video, painting, furniture, sculpture, media intervention and performance art - all with a political streak a mile wide.
A visit to Chang's studio on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach is more like seeing a one man band /comedy/drama/art show; a veritable 10-year history of radical art and concepts comes tumbling off the walls and out of the video cabinet. Chang's rapid-fire verbal delivery shoots from one subject to the next, his wild words and stories forming galloping images of a nervy artist's life, full of heavy personal politics and lighthearted executions.
Interspersing working for galleries with doing work for galleries has kept Chang o a pendulum, sweeping from promoting others' work to promoting his own.
He has worked in arts administrative positions in Chicago at Randolph Street Gallery, Latino Arts Coalition, and The School of The Art Institute's Gallery. In Miami, he has taught painting, drawing and film at Miami-Dade Community College and at Center for the Fine Arts. Chang has dabbled in art criticism and was an arts columnist for the Windy City Times in Chicago while he pursued a bachelor's degree.
Since retuning to Miami in 1990 Chang has immersed himself in the art scene, working as arts administrator at Miami-Dade Community College and more recently, taking a studio space on Lincoln Road along with artists Tomata du Plenty, Linda Faneuf and Carlos Alves. The group collectively puts on shows in the nearby Hamlet Bar, complete with videos, occasional marching bands and a high-energy art vibe unlike anything else in South Florida.
Chang feels an affinity for images and icons of other cultures, and has based his current work on these themes. "The work I'm doing now deals with America and minority cultures by appropriating their typical images and turning them into set pieces," he says.
"The whole myth of the American cowboy originally came from the Spanish and Mexican gauchos who herded cattle in Latin countries. America adopted it and turned it into a whole cultural identity for themselves.
The Piece that resulted from this, "Americana," was recently show shown at South Florida Art Center. It consisted of a framed, large-scaled map of the United States with a cheery, dense row of cows along the bottom of the frame made from American-brand beer cans , wooden horned heads and corks for feet.
Other pieces in Chang's studio that deal with cultural identity also show off his quirky visual humor, like a Santeria chair covered with bottle caps and mambo dolls that look like a child's toy despite its religious associations.
An entire wall of the studio is hung with glittering, rattling Catholic cross-and-symbol necklaces made from bottle-caps, wooden crosses and beads. A huge collection of plaster cast and painted dog bones lie stacked in heaps around the window ledges. Wooden arms emerge from the walls clutching bunches of dried roses, the petals falling in soft, perfumed piles on the concrete floor.
One piece Chang designed for a show contained a votive candle in a box that that simulated a church offering. Halfway through the show the candle caught the piece on fire. As the flames leaped up the side, Chang calmly blew them out and decided to raise the price, because the piece looked more authentic.