Colette Fu received her B.A from Virginia Commonwealth University and her M.F.A from Rochester Institute of Technology. After graduating from RIT she started to devise complex compositions that incorporated photography and pop-up engineering.
She has designed for award winning stop motion animation commercials and free-lanced for clients including Vogue China, Canon Asia and Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton and the Delaware Disaster Research Center. Her pop-up books are included in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Library of Congress, the West Collection and many private and rare archive collections. Fu’s 36×53” pop-up book from her “Haunted Philadelphia” series was recently purchased by the National Museum of Women in the arts and is the largest book in their collection. Fu recently returned from a 6-month artist residency in Shanghai, where she continued her “We are Tiger Dragon” project, an extensive visual exploration of China’s ethnic minorities. There she also designed China’s largest (1 spread) pop-up book measuring 2.5 x 5 x 1.7 meters high.
Fu’s numerous awards include a Fulbright Research Fellowship to China, and grants from the Independence Foundation, Leeway Foundation, En Foco, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Puffin Foundation and Society for Photographic Education. She has attended many fully funded artist residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Sacatar, the Vermont Studio Center, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Visual Studies Workshop, the Institute of Electronic Arts at Alfred University, the Millay Colony and the Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity.
A passionate educator, Fu also teaches artmaking as a way to give voice to communities through pop-up paper engineered projects. She teaches pop-up courses and community workshops to marginalized populations at art centers, universities and institutions internationally. As a 2013 social practice lab resident with Philadelphia’s Asian Arts Initiative, Fu worked with homeless men from the Overcomers long-term program at the Sunday Breakfast Mission. Colette and the Overcomers created a series of pop-up Chinese zodiac greeting cards containing personal stories written by the men and photographs they took of the Chinatown North neighborhood.
Fu’s initial pop-up work was more abstract, with underlying themes of consumerism and the body in a modern world of excess. But since 2008 her personal focus has been on work about the lives of the minorities of China, not far removed from her previous work. Colette’s recent series, entitled We Are Tiger Dragon People represents an interactive 3D glimpse into China’s stunning human diversity of 25 officially recognized ethnic minority groups that reside in Yunnan Province. Accompanying text introduces traditions, folklore and other culturally unique examples of their ways of living.
Fu discovered that her own personal anxiety was part lack of respecting and relating to any cultural identity. As her artwork has evolved, she uses it to promote respect, love, and the beauty of diversity and recently has extended her work to other minority communities. Recognition and celebration of diversity in others and ourselves leads us to stronger identity and involvement with the world.