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Ready for a Princess Leia Bowling Pin?
The Artist Paying Tribute to Retro Pop Culture Icons with Bowling Pins.
Entertainment 30 Nov 2018

Princess Leia. Astrogirl. Rosie the Robot maid, who rolled into The Jetson’s first cartoon episode in 1962. These are all icons of pop culture, but can easily be forgotten in today’s Instagram-filled, Kardashian era. But they’re not forgotten to Bernice Lum, a Chinese Canadian who acquired over 100 old bowling pins from a local bowling alley and turned them into artworks that show hilarious caricatures of Mickey Mouse, Disney’s Bambi and Astroboy.
They will all show at Pulse Art Fair in Miami starting December 6 with Galerie Youn for Miami Beach’s art week. From her studio in Toronto, she spoke to us about the nostalgia for bowling, her favorite kind of ice cream and why her hero is Bruce Lee.
What is your connection to Astroboy, Charlie Brown and Felix the cat?
Bernice Lum: I loved reading comics and watching cartoons with characters like Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Astro Boy only to name a few. It was Charles Schulz and the Peanuts who inspired me greatly to want to be a cartoonist (all I could think of was being a female Bruce Lee and to draw cartoons all day, or a ninja cartoonist, as I would call it now).
Why do you use the shape of the bowling pin for these pieces?
The shape of the bowling pins emulate the human form in a caricature way so well, the pins became my diary of sorts. And so the story goes, my mother was giving birth to my oldest brother, Charles in 1960. On that very same day my dad had the Bowling Tournament Finals so he went to play and while my mother gave birth to a brand new baby boy, the hospital called the bowling alley to find my father and told him the news and cigars were bought for everyone on his team. The idea to work with the pins was to pay homage to my brother who passed away six years ago and my father who passed away just two years ago.
Did you admire Bruce Lee?
Bruce Lee was my hero and like my brothers, I wanted to be like him. I remember my mom taking us to the Pagoda Theatre in Chinatown to see Bruce Lee films when we were young.}

The Dairy Queen ice cream bowling pins are out of control, how does it tie into the story about your dad and brother?
The Dairy Queen bowling pin was about a family ritual when my dad was either off work or came home early. It was part of our Sunday drives or early evening after dinner drives in the summer and chocolate sundaes were my favourite only because I wasn’t big enough to eat a whole banana split. The ice cream pieces are about the joy of the ice cream truck that frequented neighbourhoods and all the kids and mothers who ran out to greet it. I still await the truck and always have some loonies in my pocket to chase them down because it still brings me incredible joy….”small chocolate cone please!”

Text by Nadja Sayej
Photos via Artsy, Galerie Youn

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