Tasha Hobbs just moved to San Diego a little over a year ago. She has always enjoyed art and taught herself to paint while getting her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Dallas, Irving, TX. She has enjoyed participating in Solo and Group exhibitions primarily around Texas, and has painted murals in Texas, San Diego and Rota, Spain. Tasha works as a registrar at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum while volunteering at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.
Much of Tasha’s work focuses on the balance between two opposites espoused in Taoist philosophy. She is inspired by the integration between hard and soft, dark and light, passive and violent- contradictory themes which co-exist in the natural world. Neither could exist without the other and the dynamic result of their conflict creates a unique balance.
What is the name of your rabbit?
Tasha: Honoring the Disdained: Carp Jumping Dragon Gate
What does your piece portray?
Tasha: I work at the Chinese Historical Museum in the Asian Pacific Thematic District and have been fascinated by the history and plight of the Chinese people. It’s sad to think the impoverished Chinese immigrated to America looking for the “Gold Mountain’ and once here realized it was nearly impossible to become prosperous. They became trapped in a foreign country with no real means of supporting themselves. Thus began nearly half a century of racism towards Chinese immigrants leading to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which was in effect until 1943. In New Town, this led to the collapse of a formerly prosperous Chinese fishing trade and the isolation in the Asian district next to Gaslamp, not to mention the day to day difficulties of facing racist advertisements and interactions.
Can you describe the symbols on the sculpture?
Tasha: I’ve dedicated my rabbit to this section of the community through Chinese symbolism of a carp over scales, representative of the Carp Jumping Dragon Gate proverb, accompanied with its title in traditional Chinese calligraphy. Below the swimming carp are several lotuses as in Chinese symbolism, a carp and lotus representing the wish for continued prosperity, year after year, a wish I believe the original immigrants would have made for their descendants and the city. The final piece is the Endless Knot on the chest, indicating the interconnections of all beings: male and female, past and present across cultures.
What is the Carp Jumping Dragon Gate proverb?
Tasha: I chose to represent the ancient Chinese proverb ‘Carp Jumping Dragon Gate.’ It is an ancient Chinese proverb which to me recognizes the Chinese immigrants and their hard work and sacrifice. Each year at spawning time, the carp would swim upstream to lay their eggs and die. The Chinese would watch these fish fight rapids, waterfalls, and hungry animals in their journey upstream, displaying immense tenacity and courage. However, after all that work to get upstream, the fish did not return. To explain this natural phenomenon, the people believed the carp was transformed into another beast, one whom they could not see but must be worth the immense effort which the fish expended. Thus began the legend of the carp swimming upstream to become dragons. Over the centuries, this legend evolved to represent those who work hard and persevere through immense adversity will obtain success in their endeavor.
Are you inspired by any particular artists or images?
Tasha: I have a few…. Alphonse Mucha who was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, known best for his distinct style that has an organic swirl and flow. I also love Georgia O’Keeffe. She was a master at blending and used vibrant colors.
If your rabbit, had a special character trait what would it be.
Tasha: “resilience” My rabbit is a water spirit who is flexible yet strong. He is resilient and conquers life’s challenges.
Was this the first 3 dimensional form you have worked on?
Tasha: Yes, and it was thrilling and a bit of a challenge. It took about a week to prep the sculpture. Then the paint was a little tricky. But in the end I had a blast, and he looks very regal and almost like a piece of sapphire jewelry.
Tasha’s Rabbit will be unveiled officially on May 24th at the Gaslamp Quarter Associations 150th Anniversary press conference along with some of the other Rabbits added to the “Rabbitville” public art installation. Keep on the look out for the herd hopping your way!