Luce Hua wins the 2023 Vallum Art Prize

We are thrilled to announce the the winner of the 2023 Vallum Art Prize is Luce Hua for their series of collages “Of daydreams and nightmares.” Hua’s work is immediately compelling and evocative, revealing and reveling in the layers of each collage. Bolstered by an artist statement that is beautiful, playful (as you will see in Hua’s titles), and smart, the work continues to deepen and unfurl like a dream, offering something new and moving upon each viewing. We are honoured and grateful that they created these pieces in response to our themed call for submissions. Luce Hua’s work will be featured on the cover and inside of Vallum issue 20:1, “Dreams vs. Nightmares” due out spring 2023. Congratulations Luce Hua!

Of daydreams and nightmares

Artwork by Luce Hua

collage: a small child on a bed, near a window, holds up a fishing pole, which holds up a line of laundry that enters the bedroom. a white wing reaches for a small black bird flying in through the window in the background.
cross my eyes and hope to dream, January 2023
collage: a figure sits at a table with w pen, their face is cut out revealing a white background. it looks like they are writing on a desk made of cloud, detritus, and an umbrella. they face two eagles on the right, which fly over the umbrella, which stands on a bed of sand.
(things are) seldom as they dream, January 2023
collage: a figure, with their face cut out to reveal a white back ground, lights a cigarette. a sky-scape is cut to look like wings growing from the figure's back. In the background there are children who's faces are covered. Under the desk at which the main figure sits there are fishermen working, and nets.
booking a flight, January 2023
collage: a figure stands, holding one arm around themself. Their face is cut out to reveal white background. A wing is draped over their shoulder. Another wing or feather rises toward them. In the backgroun on the left is the wall of a room, sunlight and shadow of the window frame show. On the right, a sandy environment with a stone, cylindrical structure.
dreamcatcher, January 2023
A young person stands holding a sheet like material in front of their body and covering part of their face. From behind the sheet, a wing is open. Behind and above the young person, a man with a beard looks in through a shadowy window. His eyes are cut out to reveal white background. The rest of the background around the young person is dark.
flightmares, January 2023
Collage: In the bottom right corner, hands hold a woman's head. Clouds appear to rise out of her mouth. Above her a bird flies, but the bird's body is composed of a collage of hands, and white t-shirt-like material. In the lower left, the background is a low rise building with the lights on. In the centre of the piece, a hole is cut out to reveal a white background.
micronightmares, January 2023
collage: two faces appear in sand as if their bodies are buried. one is cradeled by a cloud and a wing, the other, below the cloud, is cradeled by a collage.
steined bath ceiling, January 2023


Statement from Luce Hua

From my first collage piece “of dreams” in 2021 to this series “Of daydreams and nightmares” in 2023, the cuts and layers over this period of time piece together a through narrative of art as a continual dream state for me.

This collection pulls and weaves the wool of the ideal and ‘real’ over (and under) critical aspects of identity; it is a small representation, a particular angle and nuance, on broader themes of culture, race, ethnicity, colour, ability, and queerness. It is my taste flight of fancy in the growth and inspiration that has come from ‘winging it’ as a queer artist of colour: each collage piece is a different flavour of ‘the dreamy and not so dreamy’.

The transparency in each of the collage pieces indicate spaces through which ideas and whims can flow. They also become a means of exposition on the flow between daymares and nightdreams through the interplay of literal shadow and light, and the interplay of the elements of nightmarish sentimentality and daydreamy edges. Elements of which I have pulled and posed to create what has been beautifully described and aptly ascribed as ‘doom whimsy’.

My stories here are not told solely through the composition of the collage, both the visual end product and the creation process, but derived and transformed necessarily from the origins of the original imagery itself: “Micronightmares” introduces this series with a Chinese woman laying down at the hospital. With eyes cut and breath trailing out, and surrounded by wings, hands, and buildings: it is a visceral commentary on microaggressions and tone policing.

In contrast, the final piece “Cross my eyes and hope to dream” features a Chinese child sitting up at the hospital for ‘crossed eyes’ holding onto a flyaway laundry line through the window: not yet bound by the lines of monotony and daily struggle, the billowing shapes and folds tell stories in the shadows. With eyes crossed, the child sees beyond the physical and crosses the threshold of sight between dreams and nightmares. Dreams can also be nightmares can also be dreams.

Luce Hua is an analogue and digital collage artist. Their style is ‘bleeding heart romanticism’, both in the figurative and in the literal visual sense. Their analogue art utilizes local materials that they can find for free: flyers, ads, catalogues, postsecondary student publications (their favourite!), along with the occasional purchased find. Their digital art utilizes prominent symbols and themes in intentionally rough rather than completely blended overlayed ways.