So Wing Po graduated with a BFA from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in Saint Louis in 2007, and with an MFA from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2012. Born into a family of Chinese medicine doctors, So grew up surrounded by medicinal ingredients, transforming them into raw materials for playthings and eventually artworks. Seeing that traditional Chinese medicine originates in observation, sensitivity and imagination towards nature, So applies the same theory of knowledge in her investigation of forms, materiality, metaphysics and relationality.
So had a solo exhibition at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong, titled “Six-part Practice” (2018). Her work has also been widely exhibited in group shows, including “Ghost Walk” (Hong Kong Fringe Club, Hong Kong, 2015); “Sound of Image: Exploring the Links between Audio Description and Visual Art” (Hong Kong Cattle Depot Artist Village, Hong Kong, 2013); “Seesaw- MA Fine Arts Graduation Show” (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2012); “Black Market” (Wan Chai Gresson Street, Hong Kong, 2012); “Detour 2012: Hawkerama II” (Wan Chai Police Station, Hong Kong, 2012); “Market Forces” (Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, 2012); “Exhibition of Books Saint Louis Artist’s Guild”, Missouri, USA (2007). She also published an artist book in 2018, titled “From Space to Space: An Illustrated Guide to an Infinite Something”.
Wing Po So currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
The Palm at the End of the Mind / 2020
Way before seeing, the foetus can hear. Hearing is an intricate operation – sound waves travel to the inner ear, where watery fluid in the cochlea vibrates microscopic hair cells that translate the physical motion into tinkling electrical signals relayed by neurons to the brain. So Wing Po envisions Cicada Sound Collector (2020) to be a planetarium that imitates the hearing inside of us. Grinding up Chinese herbs that she grew up with in her family’s medicinal practice, the artist creates electrolytic soil for the transmission of electrical signals. On one end is a sound receiver, generating signals that pass through the colorful orbs, and on the other end, emissions of flashing lights in the belly of cicadas. Everything is illuminated in Seeds of Damocles (2012), where hundreds of dried seeds of Damocles tree cover the orb of a furniture lamp. The warm glow is the incubator of thousands of seeds and millions of stars, each containing a universe of its own. If you hold it close to your ear, you can hear infant stars beating in their hearts.
HAHTTDT / 2019
Algae have been notoriously hard to classify in the Apollonianism of scientific taxonomy. Photosynthetic, they are neither plants, animals or fungi. So Wing Po creates mixed media installations that articulate the cellular view of underwater algae, visualizing the ancient genetics that influences observable sexual characteristics.
Some float freely, some sink. Some like it hot, some like it cold, and some like it dry. Some are single- celled, while some colonize. Some have sex, while some divide or fragment to grow new individuals. Some even survive from primitive ages and live amongst us. The profound diversity in algae is full of oddities and curiosity. To crack the genetic code where they stock up enormous data is but a step in apprehending the origin of the rainbow of diversity. Have a hard time to define them! They are the snapshots of multicellular evolution that culminates in our own.
Six-Part Practice / 2018
Curated by Kurt Chan Yuk Keung, Six-Part Practice is So Wing Po’s solo exhibition at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong.
So presents a journey of the senses to an alternate universe where history loses its specificity and fantasy takes on an anatomical structure. Here, Wing Po So presents a world where the physical body is dissected into its tiniest details and then expanded out to a celestial, even cosmic scale. Though inspired by the materia medica of traditional Chinese medicine, this is not an exhibition about that; the herbs and ingredients are but the vocabulary of the artist’s work.
Thinking about the diversity of medicinal ingredients as materials rather than curative remedies, Wing Po So has chosen six materials from her family’s pharmacy for this exhibition; in the form of sculpture, installation, and video, she explores the characteristics and personalities of these materials through obsessive repetition.