Written:Erased, an installation of repurposed garments and donated books by Jan-Ru Wan

Written: Erased Opening at Block Gallery Jan. 22

Raleigh Arts

History is written by the victors.

Winston Churchill

This quote has become even more relevant in our current political climate. It provokes questions about what is true and what isn’t regarding tradition and identity and brings to light the baggage or privilege each one of us carries with us. 

Jan-Ru Wan uses different garment forms to reflect the human condition in society. The fragment of garments is the implication of the human body, and how we carry materials in both metaphorically and literally ways.

In the work, Written: Erased, Wan uses rigid shirts to reflect the way individuals try their best to make a mark in history only to be shaped and controlled by others more powerful encouraging conformity. They are stifled by the weight of history and the hierarchy, unable to take flight or change their prospective path.  Notions of this fight to write and not be erased are woven throughout the entire piece, from the sweeping curves of the shirts ending in rigid uniformity to the stacks of books that firmly hold them in place. 

In a society that privileges certain individuals over others, Wan’s installation work strives to represent the forgotten, misrepresented or those potentially erased from history. Her use of everyday materials that are often cast off as debris, has associations to these groups and even examines the use of more traditionally accepted art media and the associations that are connected to them. Through her material choices, the erased are represented and elevated for discussion and recognition.

Wan’s Taoist beliefs have taught her to respect the cycles of life and to understand that all of life’s shifts and upheavals are just part of a natural phenomenon. This view is reflected in her suspension installations, which are not meant to pass judgment but rather serve to present the state of the situation. 

About the Artist

Jan-Ru Wan | janruwan.com

For more than two decades, Jan-Ru Wan has been reinventing found objects in her sculpture and installation work, especially those discarded from industrial factories. Her unique way of incorporating wildly diverse materials with layers of repetition, while creating immersive spaces and environments are signatures of her installation works.

Throughout Wan’s career, she has participated in 28 solo exhibitions and 44 group exhibitions including the 1st International Biennial of Casablanca at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art in Taiwan; the Yango-Biennial in Kinshasa, Congo and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. Her work has been featured in Surface Design Magazine and Sculpture Magazine. The National Art Education Association Anthology: Globalization, Art, and Education devoted an entire chapter to her work. In 2006, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee honored Wan with the GOLD award, recognizing her as the Graduate of the Last Decade. Wan is also the recipient of North Carolina’s 2008 Visual Art Fellowship and has also been awarded artist residencies in Taiwan, Thailand, Morocco, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States. 

Block Gallery

Connecting local artists to community through ongoing exhibitions and public outreach, the Block Gallery was dedicated in 2006 to honor Miriam Preston Block, a former Raleigh City Council member, and community leader. Greeting all visitors to the Upchurch Government Complex, the gallery’s marble walls and elegant staircase provide an ideal setting for showcasing original artworks. Exhibits change every eight to 12 weeks.

Raleigh Arts 

Raleigh Arts, a part of the City of Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, fosters and promotes the arts in Raleigh by administering the programs of the Arts Commission and the Public Art and Design Board and supporting the Pullen and Sertoma Arts Centers.



Stacy Bloom Rexrode
Curator of Exhibitions and Collections

Raleigh Municipal Building (RMB)
Block Gallery