2014-15 Emerging Artist
Pain is a universal theme, and today’s world seems to offer a magic pill or quick remedy for every ill. My work is an exploration of the cruel truth: that healing can only come from understanding, and understanding only from dialogue. My personal microcosm of this overarching theme is a meditation on my own pain, originating from my mother’s unconditional rejection of my sexuality, while already bearing the weight of straddling the cultures of East and West on unsteady feet.
I place a strong focus on my belief that although pain is a potent source for material, the conversation about the pain is richer still: it overwhelms at once with the tease of reconciliation and understanding, yet also the deafening terror of the chance for slipping into a cycle of eternal recurrence. In my work and personal story, a conversation between disapproving mother and “dishonorable” son is quickly complicated when the mother’s own rejection by her own father for marrying a white man reveals that pain may take on a cyclical nature, passed from one generation to the next.
Exploring uncomfortable questions prompted by the American experience primarily centers on group identity and the pain one feels when one “doesn’t belong”. These experiences themselves are categorized into relatively rigid groups, ironically reflecting the same suffocating binary identities they intend to describe: the biracial experience; the queer experience in a heteronormative culture; etc. I find myself at the intersection of multiple such experiences. In addition to being biracial and queer, I come from a military family that moved from base to base, born in a foreign country that is a liberal democracy but growing up in another that is a conservative theocracy. My personal history as such provides me not just with a vein of material to mine, but I believe gives me a nuanced understanding of the origins of pain that may rise from these incompatible and intersecting experiences, which I have had to curate and manage at great expense my entire life.
My aim as an artist, then, is to create work that frames and provides a window into conversations on pain and conflict, allowing the observer to eavesdrop and gain an intimate, even invasive view of the private lives, quarrels and pain of others. Though the audience may feel discomfort at being caught in the crossfire of private conflicts, I hope the work will provide catharsis and promote discussion, revealing the personal cost of leaving pain unresolved and undiscussed.