Girl You Can
Girl You Can emerged from my residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, in Berlin, Germany during the winter of 2016. Although my work has always dealt with issues of race and identity from the perspective of being biracial, my time in Germany cast a new lens. Berliners, from cabdrivers in turbans to drunk college kids, called out my Asian-ness, and not my American-ness. My American identity was not visually recognized and this paradox of being accepted as wholly Asian left me questioning my fractured identities. During these times of introspection, I find myself in a position of comfortable vulnerability of being half, mixed, and other. From there, I was able to turn my gaze towards American in a more critical way than ever before. American culture has long dominated and subsumed other cultures worldwide, but I began thinking, what does that “dominant culture” mean now?
This body of work was conceived before the November 2016 election, but created in the aftermath. As a nation, we are divided over what constitutes true American culture. Americans are being confronted with their icons, their fetishes, their appropriations. Many things in American society are designed, produced, manufactured, sold, and consumed without conscious knowledge of the source. Working with porcelain, blue and white patterns, stereotypically Asian motifs, textiles, video, and photography, allowed me to consume dominant culture. Our demographic makeup and the rise of globalization are dissolving the boundaries they have always relied on. This work offers us the opportunity to see America, and white America, as the complicated, multilayer, new “other”.