P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Iris Hu, 2016

MFA, Columbia University

Iris Hu is the child of immigrants from Taiwan

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MFA in Visual Arts at Columbia University

Iris was born in Los Angeles, California to Taiwanese parents. She grew up learning about the traumatic effects of the Chinese Civil War and World War II that her elders experienced and from which they were displaced, which has motivated Iris to share stories of belonging and identity through her artwork.

To keep her occupied after school while they struggled to make a living, Iris' parents enrolled her in art and music lessons where she realized her creative passion. However, her family internalized a narrow definition of success that privileged practicality and financial stability. Iris never imagined the possibility of being an artist. Yet, creating art seemed to be the only form through which she could escape the limiting familial and social expectations.

At UCLA, Iris was drawn to feminist discourse, as she was struck by art that questioned who held power to write history, make images, produce culture, and for whom. Iris began creating performance art and colorful, large-scale paintings that reframed the stories of war and displacement through a diasporic feminist lens. At that point, she realized that she was destined to make art informed by the marginal experiences of American history in hopes of creating spaces for those historically left out.

Iris' experiences have led her to work with classroom teachers and immigrant and first-generation American students at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles to make art more accessible. Furthermore, she co-founded the collaborative experimental art publication baumtest in 2013 to explore cultural and gender intersections, for which she received a Rema Hort Mann Foundation grant. She has exhibited her work in national and international galleries, alternative spaces, and public settings, and is currently completing her MFA in visual art at Columbia University, after which she hopes to rearrange and revolutionize our ways of experiencing difference.

  • BA Art, Art History | University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 2013
  • MFA Visual Arts | Columbia University
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