The exploration of self-identity is not the only theme that Annie Chen Ziyao focuses on. She hunts answers for various issues such as urbanization, equality, and women’s rights in her work as well. As a female artist, Annie understands the obstacles that female artists face in this society where women haven’t fully achieved equity at work and how difficult it is to create artworks freely without being disturbed by any negative voices.
New York in the 1970s has always been the era Annie longed for. The creative environment was relatively less restrained for artists and the society was more tolerant of artistic diversity. As a result, a group of great artists, led by Andy Warhol, was born. Annie put herself in the photo of their gathering to express her desire for a free artistic environment and named it Fantasy.
The identity of a female artist has taught Annie to always fight for what she has ever wanted. Women are often treated not as equally as men at work. The campaign against gender discrimnation is a long-term battle. Annie created She Was A Bird In The Cage, where she discussed the status of women and their claims to freedom.
In this artwork, Annie painted the acrylics on top of the photographs and wrote the words on them while the acrylics were still wet, which reflected a dialogue about time. The woman in the picture was surrounded by red pigments that had the words “she wasn’t a bird in the cage”, indicating her desire for freedom. For Annie, even though women today have gained more rights than ancient times, there are still unsolved problems.
(She Was A Bird In The Cage, by Annie Chen Ziyao)
“The quote ‘She was a bird in the cage’ comes from one of Eileen Chang’s novels. She is one of the best Chinese female novelists,” Annie explained, “Eileen Chang lived in a very turbulent time in China. But even so she was already fighting for women’s rights, which was a great inspiration to me.”
Annie has manifested her great talent to utilize art as an artistic tool to inspire people to think with both her professional skills and imagination. Her works are never too complicated to understand or too plain to stand out, which is what makes her unique among all the artists. Having grown up in two different cultures, Annie did a great job of integrating and presenting what she has learned and seen.