Every Year Have Fish!

This composition consists of two separate pieces displayed together.  To the upper left, a red-and-white fishing bobber disappears beneath the water’s surface as a fish takes the bait.  In the lower right, a feisty bluegill sunfish runs with the line, bobber in tow.  These pieces attempt to capture the moment when the still water surface suddenly bursts alive with excitement.

The first fish caught by many a child is a lively bluegill on the end of a simple cane pole.  Unfettered by complicated equipment and tackle, such fishing can foster a relaxed engagement with the simplicity of the moment rather than a focus on the technical performance of unnecessary material contrivances.  I certainly possess a good share of many different kinds and sizes of fancy fishing rods, reels, and tackle and I do use them.  Neverthess, sometimes I go fishing with only my favorite bamboo cane pole in hand.  It is one of three long, straight poles I harvested from a thicket of wild bamboo growing along a stream in Arkansas.  With the three simple poles, my two children and I have all the equipment we need to enjoy an afternoon of fishing and bring home a delicious dinner.

The calligraphic inscription is a Chinese expression “nian nian you yu,” commonly used in well-wishing at the Lunar New Year.  The phrase literally means “every year have fish” and is a play on words.  The Chinese character for fish, “yu” is pronounced exactly the same as a different character that means surplus or abundance.  So, the phrase is used to wish a person an abundant and prosperous new year.

Size:  both pieces are 14 x 10 inches  (2007)

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