Foon Sham is a master of wood sculpture. To be within one of his vessel sculptures is to experience the palpable space of a woodland creature’s habitat, or the concealed space of someone wanting to hide. For Escape, he has built two tunnels, one horizontal measuring 62 feet long, the other vertical towering 36 feet high. Escape is one of a series of participatory sculptures, begun in the 1990s, meant to be experienced with all the body's senses and to resonate socially. Dualism, as in the Taoist yin/yang dichotomy, is a consistent theme in Sham's work. Escape may be possible spiritually, if not physically. The outsider defines the insider. Darkness coexists with light. The yin and yang are complementary, two sides of the same coin.
The title Escape signals that a political interpretation is valid. The outdoor sculpture’s craggy ridgeline echoes the mountain ranges of the American West and traces the line of the US-Mexican border. Without being politically prescriptive, the title and tunnel imagery evoke the hotly-contested issues of immigration and the plight of the refugee that figured so heavily in both American and European recent elections. The journey for the viewer of Escape may be short and sensory, or may be evocative of bigger issues like the death-defying travails undertaken by Central American and Syrian refugees. May each visitor find the way to experience this monumental work.