Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Implication of Red

by Lin Hsin-Chen

For women in the Chinese-speaking World, the color red is like an invisible frame. Our traditional values teach us to tolerate a variety of unhappiness for the sake of keeping happy lives for the majority. Such uncertainty stops us from pursuing dreams. Although red represents joy and happiness, it’s also a symbol of stirring emotions.

“My traditional world is much simpler than imagined, just like hand sewing techniques in traditional quilting”- this is my answer after thinking it over. Tradition might have different meaning for everyone, depending on family backgrounds, environments and personal thoughts. I’m Hoklo Taiwanese, the most traditional ethnic group in Taiwan. There are more moral rules for us to follow than other groups. But this is not a bad thing. The invisible shackle and strict education make us to face various challenges with courage and confidence and enable us to learn from previous experiences to grasp the key points quickly. In fact, in addition to enjoy the joy of red, I am even more grateful for gaining pure confidence after working hard to overcome difficulties over and over again. My challenge is about the pure white hidden in the red sea of flowers.

I chose to work on “the traditional burden of red”, though it once made me struggle. Thankfully I had 10 days to stay away from creating. I finally had some time for self-reflection. It brought me joy and vitality inadvertently, and made me complete the quilt which was once out of control. It’s a relief that I sort it out in Beijing. It’s very meaningful. It feels like awakening from a long dream. Thank you, Misik, for the challenge.

Materials: commercial cotton, ribbon, gold thread, silver thread, bead, sequin
Techniques: hand appliqué, hand pieced, hand embroidered, hand quilted

Size: 87 x 100 (cm)


  1. Your first paragraph is very profound and gave me a better understanding of your culture, particularly from a woman's perspective. It is good to be confident that you will be able to overcome adversity, though one hopes for less adversity. A beautiful piece. Your hand-stitching, as always, is stunning, Hsin-Chen.

    1. Thank you, Martha! I’d like to share another story of this work. Before going to Beijing, I had wounds in my hand due to extensive sewing, and therefore there are blood stains on the red background. I did try hard to remove the stains. But when I was in Beijing, I saw an injured man with blood-stained pants. I suddenly realized that the blood stains are also telling stories, and there is no need to get rid of them. So, after returning home, I tried hard to neglect the stains on the work. However, continue sewing by hand gave me blisters and I had to stop again! It’s why I delayed the work. Another lesson learned! Time and tide wait for no man… Anyway, I do cherish this work. It’s another valuable learning opportunity. Thanks again!

  2. Such a heartfelt piece again Hsin-Chen! I agree with Martha that it has helped me towards a deeper understanding of your culture, thank you. And you are certainly suffering for your art! Hope your hand is healed.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Sue. I will keep going. My hand is healed after taking a rest, but it happens every time when I sewing extensively. However, it’s a happy suffering. Enjoy your trip in Mongolia, Sue!