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May 12, 2015

36 views of Mt. Rainier

36 views of Mt. Rainier

As gentrification and skyrocketing rents change the landscape of my hometown, I am faced with many emotions. I feel overwhelming nostalgia, sometimes anger and frustration, hopelessness, and emptiness.  It feels like my home is disappearing from right beneath my feet. I feel righteousness to my place here, and I declare my authenticity: My parents, brother, and I were all born in the same hospital on Capitol Hill. My grandparents and great-grandparents also lived in Seattle. I’ll see your fifteen years here, and raise you four generations and more than one hundred years.

At the same time, I talk myself through these changes. I remind myself that although I feel deeply rooted here, the Seattle I know is only 28 years old. The city has gone through many transformations, and I can only imagine how it must have look two hundred years ago under the guardianship of the Duwamish people. This series is my take on Hokusai's 36-views of Mt. Fuji.  I use Mt. Rainier as a constant of this area, a metaphor for immortality. The images I overlay are places around the city that are a part of my own psychogeography, places that have become ingrained in my mind from years and decades of repeatedly walking past them.  I also use source images of these places from before my time, such as a photo of University of Washington from the years my grandmother attended, found in my great-uncle’s photo album.

I have lots of strong opinions about the gentrification and displacement of the people and businesses in my area, particularly the Central District, Chinatown-ID, and Capitol Hill. I have had my share of rants, but there is nothing productive about finger pointing and self-pity. I haven’t really figured out what I can do that would have an impact, or if these gentrifying forces are even possible to stop. For now, I will continue to lament the loss of my idea of home while I try to also recognize that this place doesn't belong to me.  

///p.s. What else? This series is painted on recycled cardboard, cereal boxes actually. I chose this to tie in the emphemeral, so that Mt. Rainier represents immortality while painted on a temporary material. Furthermore, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is a well-practiced ritual in the Pacific Northwest, one that I can't help but follow.

May 5, 2014

Tule Lake Slipcast Bowl

Tule Lake Slipcast Bowl

I have started to play with imagery from the Japanese internment camps.  I plan to reinterview members of my family that were relocated during WWII.   The generation that experienced this is currently in their 80s and above, and I feel that my proximity to that primary source shouldn't be wasted.

When I was in middle school, I interviewed my stepgrandmother [I call her Grandma Nobie, but not to be confused with my mom's biological mother who killed herself as a young adult] about living in the internment camp when she was high school age.  The cassette tape was turned into my teacher, and I got an A+ on the project, but unfortunately we lost track of the tape at one point. The story I can still remember is about a time in the mess hall. Grandma Nobie put some mustard on a baked potato in her bowl and found herself surrounded by the others who mistakenly thought it was an egg, and wondered where she'd gotten the scarce, protien-rich egg.

You can expect my next ceramic slip-cast to have a painting of a dollop of yellow mustard on some grey lumps in the bowl's interior.  I hope to make more objects to represent these little narratives as I find them in my research.

Jan 3, 2014

Maria Roots' Bill of Rights for Mixed People

Maria Roots' Bill of Rights for Mixed People

some notes:

"I have the right not to be responsible for people's discomfort with my physical ambiguity."  Racial ambiguity is scary because humans, as pack creatures, want to have the comfort of putting each person they meet into the appropriate position of power in relation to themselves and others they know the place of.  To deny someone the knowledge of your ambiguous race is an act of resistance, not toward the individual but to the system that created and perpetuates the delusion of race, "a status quo that perpetuates race wars and violates civil rights."

"I have the right to identify myself differently than how strangers expect me to identify." Recently, after being asked what I am and responding that I am mixed Asian and White, I got the follow up, "Yeah, but that's so vague.  Come on, what kind of Asian?" followed by the assertion, "I'm Mexican." I complied and gave my full breakdown, as Root says, "fragment[ing] myself and others."  When I give in to this line of questioning it is a concession at the point when I've run out of energy and just want to give people what they want so that they'll move on and leave me alone.  I hope it was as unsatisfying for them to learn as it was for me to share.  [This differs from a personal conversation about race/identity/whatever where race comes up.  This is about being approached in this way by people who I do not know.]

"I have the right to freely choose whom I befriend and love." Have you ever had the thought or fear that if you had children with a white person, that your children would be white?  Does the fact that I've had this thought offend you?  It's certainly not a fear I want to live by or chose my partner by, I'm just saying I've had this thought, and I know I'm not the only one who has feared it.  Freedom is complicated.

Root breaks down her thoughts and further explains each of the declarations:

Root, Maria. "A Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People." Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Ed. Maurianne Adams, Warren J. Blumenfeld, et. al.  New York and London: Routledge, pp. 120-126.

Aug 23, 2013

Crayongie├čen

Crayongie├čen

Crayongießen is a partipatory installation piece where participants read their fortunes from the dropped casts of melted crayons. The idea is based on a German New Years tradition called Bleigießen, where people melt a small amount of lead, drop it in a bowl of water, and then read their fortune from the shape.  The piece is set up with a candle, a metal spoon, broken crayon pieces, basin of water, and the symbol reference guide. To make a crayon casting, draw 2 crayon pieces at random from the box, hold the crayons in a spoon over a candle flame until melted, dump the wax into a bowl of water, and then interpret the shape using the guidebook to determine a fortune.

View Online Guidebook

Apr 14, 2013

Bird/Dove - Good luck in the coming year

Bird/Dove - Good luck in the coming year

Crayongießen Trials

Uprooted Tree - Big life change

Seed Pod - Fertility, Growth, New beginnings, pregnancy

Flowers -  New friends

Categories studies

Apr 6, 2013

Ancient, Instant, Disposable

Ancient, Instant, Disposable

Imitation Raku Bowl

made from a ceramic slip cast

of a plastic Instant Ramen Soup bowl

Categories studies

Apr 3, 2013

No Name Woman

No Name Woman

Excerpt from The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston:

"Don't tell anyone you had an aunt. Your father does not want to hear her name. She has never been born." I have believed that sex was unspeakable and words so strong and fathers so frail that "aunt" would do my father mysterious harm. I have thought that my family, having settled among immigrants who had also been their neighbors in the ancestral land, needed to clean their name, and a wrong word would incite the kinspeople even here. But there is more to this silence: they want me to participate in her punishment. And I have.

In the twenty years since I heard this story I have not asked for details nor said my aunt's name; I do not know it. People who can comfort the dead can also chase after them to hurt them further-a reverse ancestor worship. The real punishment was not the raid swiftly inflicted by the villagers, but the family's deliberately forgetting her. Her betrayal so maddened them, they saw to it that she would sufFer forever, even after death. Always hungry, always needing, she would have to beg food from other ghosts, snatch and steal it from those whose living descendants give them gifts. She would have to fight the ghosts massed at crossroads for the buns a few thoughtful citizens leave to decoy her away from village and home so that the ancestral spirits could feast unharassed. At peace, they could act like gods, not ghosts, their descent lines providing them with paper suits and dresses, spirit money, paper houses, paper automobiles, chicken, meat, and rice into eternity essences delivered up in smoke and flames, steam and incense rising from each rice bowl. In an attempt to make the Chinese care for people outside the family, Chairman Mao encourages us now to give our paper replicas to the spirits of outstanding soldiers and workers, no matter whose ancestors they may be. My aunt remains forever hungry. Goods are not distributed evenly among the dead.

My aunt haunts me-her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses and clothes. I do not think she always means me well. I am telling on her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself in the drinking water. The Chinese are always very frightened of the drowned one, whose weeping ghost, wet hair hanging and skin bloated, waits silently by the water to pull down a substitute.

Categories research studies

Oct 23, 2012

Categories studies

Three-Figure Study using Collage

Three-Figure Study using Collage

Collage based on Guilty Parties.

Guilty Parties, Oil on Canvas, 2012

Categories studies

Jun 7, 2012

Painted from observation, this still life mixes multiple perspectives to create a disoriented yet coherent space.  I painted the objects from eye level, while the table's surface is viewed from above. I make the changes based on the needs of the painting's internal composition. As the composition becomes clearer, the painting drifts further and further from any objective truth about the still life I'm observing.

Refers to the excerpt on memory I posted on May 24th from Brain Rules "...present knowledge can bleed into past memories and become intertwined with them as if they were encountered together."  And so on and so on.  

Categories studies