開花結果 Open Flowers Bear Fruit

May 1, 2023 - May 31, 2024 McCarthy Gallery, Holekamp Hall

開花結果 Open Flowers Bear Fruit

The title 開花, ‘open flower,’ is a Chinese phrase that means literally, ‘to bloom,’ and figuratively, ‘to succeed.’ Shih’s lush photographs evoke elaborate Dutch 17th century and other European still life paintings that are densely populated with flowers, as well as objects and foods made by Asian American artists that are significant to diverse perspectives and lived experiences in the AAPI communities. Shih’s compositions playfully invite viewers to mentally reach for a Hong Kong pineapple bun or a bite of Korean kimchi, and then demand a closer look that reveals layered meanings challenging the definitions of identity and celebrating the exuberance of the resulting Asian American experience. In doing so, the photographs appear defiant to the reminders of mortality so present in the Dutch still life paintings that the images mimic.   

This exhibition is organized by the Museums at W&L and the senior curator of art, Patricia Hobbs. The project is generously supported by the Williams School and the departments of Art and Art History, and East Asian Languages and Literatures.

About the Artist

Stephanie Shih (史欣雲) is a visual still life artist, known for her painterly use of shadow applied to playful perspectives on food. Shih started making photographs with her dad’s half-frame camera on childhood road trips, but only took up photography seriously later in life while in graduate school. At the time, she moonlighted as a wedding cake maker, and translating the fantastical experience of food to the visual image has been a driving throughline of her work ever since. 

Shih has exhibited at venues including Hashimoto Contemporary LA, Griffin Museum of Photography, USC Pacific Asia Museum, and The Royal Photographic Society (UK). Her photography has been featured in a number of media outlets including Elle Girl Korea, 7x7, Bloomberg Businessweek, Gastronomica, Buzzfeed, and the Los Angeles Times. 

Shih is from the San Francisco Bay Area and currently lives in Los Angeles. When not in the studio or kitchen creating, she is a professor at the University of Southern California. 

Above: Oggni with Six Kimchi, 2021. Archival pigment print on agave paper, vintage frame, paint, gold leaf, brass plaque.  Courtesy of the artist.

Open Hours
  • Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The McCarthy Gallery in Holekamp Hall is open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Reeves Museum of Ceramics and Watson Galleries are temporarily closed for installations and will reopen August 28, 2024 and October 2, 2024, respectively.

View Museum Hours and Admissions

Events and Programming

Lunch and Learn — Stories of Migration

Select Mondays in 2023, 12:00 — 1:00 p.m.
Reeves Museum of Ceramics
Join us for a special Lunch and Learn series inspired by our current exhibitions that will explore themes of migration, diaspora, and identity. Lunch is provided, but be sure to sign up quickly. All are welcome.

Exhibition Companion

Learn more about the art of 開花結果 OPEN FLOWERS BEAR FRUIT with context and commentary from artist Stephanie Shih.