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Check out Coffee Kang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Coffee Kang.

Coffee, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born and raised in an average family in Shanghai, China. Born into a farmer’s family, my parents both followed a promising career path to get out of poverty. Becoming an artist was not an option until my generation. With my parents’ understanding and supports, in 2012, a little before I turned 18, I went to Hong Kong to pursue a Bachelor of Arts at City University of Hong Kong, where my art journey started. Four years later, I moved to California for an MFA from Photo and Media program at California Institute of the Arts.

After I graduated, I didn’t go back to Shanghai, where people say the economy is booming that I will get a decent job. Instead, I decided to keep looking for a shelter for my dream, if not in the states, then maybe somewhere else. I had a post-graduation crisis like everyone does, and it hit international students harder due to complicated immigration regulations. Sometimes I still question my decision, but by the end of the day, I am just glad that I haven’t given up.

Since then, besides working here and there for money, last spring I attended a three-month artist residency program at Pilotenkueche in Leipzig, Germany, where I worked with a group of talented international artists, and gained a lot of personal growth. Currently, I am an artist in residency at Eastside International in downtown LA and still on the go.

I don’t have a legendary story to tell, as I am really just an average person trying her best. However, I do see my story relating to many like me, those who don’t belong anywhere and yet find belongingness in what and who they love.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My works, oftentimes autobiographical, center around transnational experiences in social and cultural contexts, with an intimate and melancholy approach. I navigate personal moving and shifting narratives through various media, including installation, sculpture, photography, video, and performance. Carrying multiple identities with me, as a 25-year-old Chinese queer woman in the States, I project my in-betweenness into my practice. Undergoing influences penetrated by different communities, cultures, and policies, I am constantly in a state of in-between, between inside and outside, here and there, now and then. I intend to present the impermanent in my works through the performative processes and/or time-based media. Process matters more than results in my practice. The making is not to achieve something but to do something. And the temporality of the medium helps to inform my personal and cultural historicity while trying to connect to a grander whole. The fluctuation, or state of flowing, relates back to how we move in certain spaces and how our cultures affect perceptions as well as physical space. In this connection comes an exploration of inherited culture, identity and power of individuals within a system.

The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Keep track of your expenses for your art. List a budget sheet before you carry out your plan. These are part of the artist’s professionality and useful components when you apply for fundings or price your works in the future. It also helps you feel more grounded and organized in terms of finance. Apply for grants and fundings wherever you are in your career. It will take many rejections before an offer, but you never know when it comes!

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
From March 14 through April 5, I will be showing some works at Eastside International with Vanessa Holyoak and Antoine Chesnais. The upcoming exhibition, Between Dog and Wolf, will open on March 14 at 7 pm, and on view through April 5. The exhibition will bring together recent works from the three artists, inviting the audience to an intimate experience of liminal space. I am looking forward to meeting the readers of VoyageLA at the exhibition!

If you can’t make it to the show, check out my works at and subscribe to the newsletters on the info page. I will keep you posted with exhibitions and events. Also please feel free to reach me at

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal picture: Chenlei Zhang
Almost Crossing/Thresholds, documentation photo: Antoine Chesnais

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