Family Game Night/Communication Series

Elania Yip
Graphite on Paper

Family Game Night

Elaina Yip

Taking a similar form to the recognizable game of Jenga, this ceramic work resembles a game of chance familiar to most people. These blocks are printed with images of the artists’ old family photos and nostalgic memories; a sentiment to the idea that understanding means dismantling and reassembling.


Communication Series

Elaina Yip

A sea of straight lines can be meditative in its repetitive nature. For the artist, each mark impacts the other before and after it; each makes up a deliberate part of the whole. Drawing from Harlow’s theory of contact comfort, these lines signify a means of simulating control for the maker.


My work examines the relationships within my family and how they impact my ability to adapt to other areas of my life. For example, the discovery of my two half-sisters fractures and shifts my family dynamic and causes a change in my living environment. This makes the structure that was once so stable, fragile, and uncertain. In this way, my desire to adapt to changes in family structure and environment results in the rapid dismantling of a carefully ordered space. This is the central theme present in my artwork.

When an individual’s exterior world is turned upside down, their interior world tends to follow suit. Psychological perspectives on the way families function therefore have become essential to my work. Through extensive research, I am able to understand various physiological and biological processes that fuel cognitive functions and behaviors from a scientific standpoint. A theory postulated by psychologist Murray Bowen states that “families so profoundly affect their members’ thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same ‘emotional skin.’” My work explores this ‘emotional skin’ and translates my family’s separation and relocation into quantifiable “data” and facts. This allows me to counterbalance my emotional processes and form an awareness of changes in self-perception. The component of an independent and dependent variable is crucial to my work as the events that my art discusses influence and impacts one another.

Drawing influence from Harlow’s theory of contact comfort – which can be defined as the innate pleasure derived from close physical contact used to provide psychological comfort in unusual or unique situations – I work in a variety of disciplines that either require physical contact, or methodical and laborious processes as a means of seeking internal comfort. In my work, the idea behind a piece dictates the medium, but throughout my entire body of work, I seek external solutions to internal problems. For example, in my use of line, each mark influences and interacts with the forms that surround it in a way that mirrors the impacts family members have on one another. I work meticulously to ensure that each line is straight and does not smudge as a means of simulating control. Processes such as this allow me to grapple with painful themes and ultimately help me attain a sense of security and comfort. The element of time in my work allows me to observe and track both physical and emotional changes (for example, “Communication Series: +852 9739 8820 / +852 9878 0992”) that can help strengthen the understanding of fluctuations within my family dynamic.

Through my art, I seek to make sense of the disorder that is presented through a new family
structure and environment. The search for control in my artwork presents itself as the need for or lack of resolution. The ability to reach a conclusion provides me with a sense of control, and being unable to do so creates an internal environment of chaos and imbalance.


Elaina Yip’s Studio Visit