Reflection: I was, I am, I will be
How would you answer Chanel Miller’s “I was, I am, I will be” prompt? Would your answers look like Miller’s, or would they look different?
According to the inscription, Xue Susu painted this work in 1615 to celebrate the vitality of flowers. Depicted in this handscroll are (from right to left): chrysanthemum, hibiscus, camellia, magnolia, iris, Joseph’ s Coat with asters, and prunus (plum). Xue captures the essence of each plant and brings them to life through her use of ink wash.
The writer Fan Yunlin (1558–1641) added a long comment to the end of this handscroll praising Xue’ s artistic talents.
Xue Susu was active during a time considered an age of talented women. She was a famous courtesan in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, and was considered one of the “Eight Famous Courtesans of the Ming.” According to her contemporaries, she excelled in painting orchids, narcissus, and bamboo, writing poetry and calligraphy, and shooting a bow and arrow on horseback. Her painting skill is often likened to the renowned Ming-dynasty painter Chen Chun (1483–1544).