Big Chicken & Baby Bird
Tsz Kam (Big Chicken) was born in colonial Hong Kong and moved to Texas at age 13. Kam’s family history of being political refugees of communist China runs parallel to their own escape from Hong Kong culture. As a first-generation immigrant, Kam explores the outsider and insider perspectives through the lens of a gender non-binary person, both when observing American culture and looking back at their Sino roots. By using escapism and nostalgia as an expression, Kam reestablishes a sense of belonging through their works.
Nat Power (Baby Bird) was born and raised in Texan suburbia. She relocated to complete her BFA at UT Austin in 2016 and has since continued to work in Austin as a painter and printmaker, as well as recently beginning study as a tattoo apprentice. Power serves as the art director of local DIY wrestling promotion Party World Rasslin’ and takes influence from the narrative and formation of character presented in pro wrestling. Her work observes the manifestation of feminine rage and its suppression, depicting characters that stall on the boundary between acceptability and anger.
Kam and Power met while studying at The University of Texas at Austin, where they obtained their BFAs. They formed the collective duo Big Chicken & Baby Bird, and have been collaborating since 2015. Their collaborative work centers around the experience of shifting between girlhood and womanhood within the ambiguity of gender. Through paintings, sculptures, and installations, Kam and Power create new mythology by staging fantasies within domesticity, where objects and figures become characters with inevitable roles to play in seduction and repulsion. Having grown up in the 90s, Kam and Power are inspired by the digital colors that exist exclusively in the virtual space of the Internet. Using florescent pigments, Kam and Power replicate the palette of Microsoft Paint and create surrealist images that reference visual themes of the online spaces that influenced their childhoods. The florescent glow from such color choices impregnates their paintings with an ethereal presence that can only be perceived and experienced in real time. Due to the fact that florescent pigments cannot be accurately photographed by a digital device, these paintings cannot be translated back into the digital virtual space that inspired them. By irreversibly extracting virtuality into reality, Kam and Power situate their paintings as objects of reality rather than simply signifiers of the virtual space they hail from. Using the grotesque as a metaphor for the conflict between art and nature, and the debate of queer identity as congenital or acquired, Kam and Power’s paintings put on display the blurred boundary between the virtual and the real, and proof of a containment breach.