Pei-San Ng.

“I’m a member of Chicago Art Department and I work out of its studio space in a cubicle.  I share the studio with a bunch of other artist and designers.”

Pei-San Ng is an architectural designer / multimedia artist. Born in Taiwan and raised in Los Angeles, she holds a BA in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology from UCLA, an AA in Interior Design from Harrington College and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently, she is working freelance in architecture and web. Whenever she has time, she makes art out of matches. She fancies the unexpected and the flawed. And she’s a great Asian helper! She is a member of the Chicago Art Department.
FROM YOUR DESKS: You make art out of matches; do you use a special brand?
PEI-SAN NG: No, basically whichever is available. The requirement I look for is consistent height and tip color.  I make sure I have enough to finish the piece. The brand I have been using predominantly is Diamond – Strike on Box Matches. I’ve also used vintage matches given to me by my friend, Tanya. The match boxes that those matches came with looked old, possibly from the 60s or 70s.  They also varied in shades of pink so I just rolled with it.  In fact, the art piece that is made out of these vintage matches is my favorite.
FYD: Is that a bird (in your workspace background) or a dragon? I’m a fire dragon.
PSN: It’s a phoenix, rising out of its ashes, thus the tail is burned.
FYD: How many matches did you use on both desire and the bird; and how long did the labour take?
PSN: I didn’t keep count for those.  My guess is for the desire piece, roughly 1600 matches and for the phoenix, roughly 4000 matches.  The desire piece took much quicker.  It’s one of the more recent pieces and by now, I’ve got my technique down and am faster.  It took a day to finish, the attachment of the matches took 8 hours in one sitting. The phoenix took about a week to complete.  Sometimes, I could only sit for 4 hours per day.  It all depends, some days I’m faster and some days, I am not.  I don’t have a total hours spent on the phoenix.
FYD: How do you come up with the words and figures?
PSN: They are either related to the idea/ theme of burning or temptation.
I personally see the burned $ as an individual literally burning their money away.  It’s an irony. 
FYD: You burned the $ symbol; do you ever burn the other pieces to show the charred look?
PSN: So far, I’ve burned the $ sign, the phoenix and the bird/eagle.  I do have plans to burn others.  As far as which ones, you will just have to wait and see.  But it’s always more fun to burn them. Burning the pieces have both a symbolic meaning and also for aesthetic reasons.  With burning, I get another color and texture.
FYD: Is the burning of the $ significant in our flailing economy?
PSN: I didn’t see the burning of the $ as a global issue as to signify our failing economy but now that you mentioned it, it sure can be. I personally see the burned $ as an individual literally burning their money away.  It’s an irony.  When a person buys this piece of art (unburned) and he or she lit it on fire, I want this person to be conscious of their action.  He or She is burning their money away.  However, one also have the option to not burn it.  It presents the question of how do you value art, is it an object that you can keep indefinitely or is it an experience that is over in 5 minutes?  There’s not that many art out there that asks you to burn it.
FYD: Will you eventually segue back into architecture or is art your true passion?
PSN: I will definitely venture back into architecture.  They are both my passion. Architecture is art except on a much larger scale and involves many more collaborators.

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