Candy Rong-Rong Wei, born on August 5, 1980, grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where her mother, Jing Wang, taught at Duke University. Candy’s interest in art was evident from a very early age. She devoted her time not only to drawing and painting, but also to experimenting with mediums such as origami papers, linoleum blocks, wood block, conceptual photography, digital art, sculpture and graphic design. When she was fifteen, Candy had her first psychotic breakdown, entered a mental ward at Duke, and spent a year at home recovering. She was diagnosed with a schizo-affective illness.

Her signature work is comprised of three dozen drawings, paintings, and woodblock prints that celebrate the moment of fertilization of the egg. This is the “The Egg and Sperm Series”, completed during the last year of her life (2000-2001). The series offers a vision of the joy of living and the anticipation of (re)birth. This series also foreshadows her suicide. Candy’s art is inseparable from her struggle with schizophrenia, inspiring both images of fear and death and images of sperm that are splitting into multiplying entities seeking to fertilize the eggs.

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Candy was also a prolific poet and short story writer. She was devoted to literary and art zines as multi-dimensional areas for creativity. From 1995-1996, Candy began work on a literary zine called “Yteicos” (“society” spelled backwards), for which she wrote occasional editorials and published poetry on topics such as death and rebirth. She was also one of the three editors of “Eat the Monster”, a literary-art zine.

Candy entered the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design in Fall 1999. In fall 2000, the beginning of her sophomore year, she had another relapse and withdrew from school, returning to Durham for treatment. In January 2001, Candy returned to the University of Michigan. On January 16, she committed suicide in her dorm. Her suicide was reported by major news media and served as one of the centerpieces of a media driven campaign to reform university mental health services for students. A scholarship fund was established in Candy’s name at the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. The recipients of this fund made individual contributions to this site by submitting works inspired during their study abroad.

Videos

Jackie Yu Jie

Jackie Yu Jie, a Chinese filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles, USA, made this video. Jackie studied in the Master’s Program in Film and Video at the California Institute of the Arts (LA). She first encountered Candy’s story in Art World, a Shanghai-based Chinese magazine. Moved by Candy’s art, Jackie flew to Boston in December 2003 to collect materials for a documentary she wanted to make. The video is made up of her interview of Jing Wang, Candy’s mother. She registered her thoughts on Candy as follows:

In the beginning.
She was a name on a piece of paper
She was a young lady I wish I would have had the chance to give her a hug.
She was Candy Wei

Unavoidably, along the way, we have heard or even seen many deaths. Mournful? Joyful? Anguished? Understandable? People always say, “Life is like a journey”.
How was Candy’s journey?

Although Candy chose to leave us for a different realm of existence, she still allows us to learn her, through her artworks, our memories and the documentary of sound and image. Candy’s talent, emotions, spirit are vividly reflected in different media.
The journey with Candy sails on.

初见容容,是王琦笔下的一个名字,是照片里笑得无邪的女生。惊叹这样一个精灵般的人物怎会甘心用这样的方式逝去。
再读容容,才明白这个纤细精致的老灵魂正是因为不甘心,才会选择这样的方式逝去。

然而,逝去并不是失去
容容的艺术作品,让我们相识在这个季节,相遇在不同空间。 
许多的不舍得,许多的心疼,许多的感动。
容容让还在这条路上走得跌跌撞撞的我懂了许多。

Yu Jie approaches storytelling with diverse media. Her works range from experimental fantasy-portrait, to conceptual videography, and to narrative drama. In addition, she enjoys doing sound design and sound mix for animation, live action films and modern dance performance. 
 For more details of her work, please visit www.jyfilms.com.

Liwen Jin

Ms. Jin is a graduate student of Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT.

 

News

"Candy R. Wei: Reincarnation, Death, Art, and Schizophrenia"

Click to read "Candy R. Wei: Reincarnation, Death, Art, and Schizophrenia", an article by Jing Wang.

 

ABC News, Friday Feb. 8, 2002: "College Mental Health Crisis"

For the actual ABC News video coverage in RealVideo format, click on "College Mental Health Crisis" under "More on this story, Video"

 

Detroit Free Press

"A talented U-M student kills herself, and her mother wonders if universities are able to handle mental health crises," June 4, 2001

 

New York Times

"The Therapy Generation," January 13, 2002

 

Candy R. Wei's Art World

from Art World (Shanghai), May 2002 - Pages 50, 51, 52