FALL 2018 MATERIALS & MEDIA W/JIMMY BULOSAN
ART THERAPY & COUNSELING, SAIC
TEN-DAY PROJECT: BODY
Womanhood: my body, my burden Found objects (wood, butterflies, lake glass, stones, acorns), moss, and flowers
One of my daily rituals is my morning walk with Bodhi, whom I adopted at my ESA about a year and a half ago. He has helped me to be more “present” and essentially to open my eyes to things that I would not have otherwise noticed. This project began with materials we both found in our daily explorations.
“Seaglass” and flattened, smooth stones along the beach; Driftwood along the reeds. My senses are heightened – the sound of the waves, the brush of the wind – as I scan the scan the sand. There is a meditative aspect to searching and collection of these found materials. Unlike traditional art materials, found materials need to be prepared. The glass and stones were washed and sorted; the wood and flowers were dried; the driftwood was bleached and soaked in boiled water. I experimented with the materials and explored the organic shapes in different arrangements; Stones which appeared to be bone arranged (and eventually Gorilla-glued) to driftwood (almost appearing like flesh).
This project was very much learning HOW to work with new materials. With efforts to reduce my frustrations, I randomly used humor to describe my interactions with the materials (my critiquer said it sort of “humanized them” and gave them a voice. Quite accurately, I was learning how to “negotiate” the string and how to tie these stones.
After figuring out how to quadruple up on the sewing thread in order to tie the stones, I created this piece which represents the body as displaced (driftwood) with the grounding (stones). The motion of the dangling stones, however, represent the moving forces of change (or, perhaps tendons keeping muscles attached to bone).
During the CPAT Conference, I created my first embroidery with a uterus (and added vagina) to represent the duality of being a woman and her body parts as being a source of power (creation in the womb) yet also the source of where power can be taken from her. My experiences with sexual assault and harassment have led me to the field of art therapy; however, my greatest fear is the potential for those experiences to negatively affect my ability to support others in their own healing. My fears, shame, pain, etc are embodied in me.
I serendipitously found a piece of driftwood with curved, almost vein-like roots that immediately reminded me of the shape of a uterus or even a heart. Left unwashed, unsterilized, I adorned it with the same stones and glass along with shells and preserved flowers (dried) and new found objects acorns and pine cones (freshly fallen, so still alive) - elements that represent rebirth and regeneration.
TEN DAY PROJECT: MEMORY
American Dream Mixed Media (Analog Photography, Digital Print, Japanese printed paper collage) (Image above(
Inspired by the work of Ralph Arnold, Kara Walker, Alexandra Bell, and Scheherazade Tillet, I wanted to create a work of “memory” using self-portrait images from my analog photography done during my college years and reworking the images into new context. Perhaps the first time that I have really tried to explore memories that have formed my sense of self-identity in terms of race and citizenship, I realize that I have always felt displaced as a person recognized always as “An Asian” before American. “An Asian” meaning that Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese, etc are “all the same.” It will always be an “American Dream” for me because I will always exist in the liminal space between Asian and American.
In creating this collage, I began to then consider the aspects of memory and identity from an intersectional lens in my digital multimedia piece, Best Before…
Best Before Mixed-media (digital photography, photo-editing, and cellophane) (image below)
In further exploration of self-identity through race and citizenship, I then delved into the ways in which culture and society impact self-identity and self-worth. For girls and women, the positive concepts of of growth and maturity are often overshadowed by the negative aspects of aging. Across all cultures, girls and women are more likely to be subject to superficial judgments and expectations of society in all aspects from appearance, behavior, profession, and even in how they care for their own bodies.
Technology and social media have vastly impacted the ways in which people are able to “see” themselves. The new self-portrait is the infamous “selfie.” Along with photo-editing platforms like MakeupPlus allow people to modify their facial features to make themselves look younger, more beautiful, more attractive, and so on. How are one’s sense of self. self-image, self-esteem, self awareness, etc shaped or re-shaped by social media? How does it affect one’s wellness and self-care?
In making my facial “improvements” on the mobile app, I realized that most of the features I used were to make me look younger and more Western: smooth out my skin, whiten my skin, increase the size of my eyes, decrease the width of my nose. etc. How much is too much?
The final work reflected the intersectional challenges of being an Asian woman: maintaining the stereotypes of being the intelligent model minority whilst fighting the stereotypes of being a sexualized submissive. In both Eastern and Western culture, the same misogyny exists wherein the Asian woman is commodified.
TEN DAY PROJECT: BEING
The Fortune of Wellness Found objects, Flowers, and cement sculpture
Inspired by Eli Clare’s Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure, SAIC MAATC’s Disability Panel, Liz Jackson’s talk on Designing with Disability, and Sandie Yi, I wanted to continue to explore my personal narrative as it relates to intersectionality and disability.
The 4D element of time is represented by the length of the arrangement of the branches in addition to the “transition” from dead objects to living, though both living and dead coexist in the base. Driftwood and dried rosebuds from the top transitioning to partially living roses intertwined with fortune cookies hovering over lush, living flora decorated with hanging fortune cookies growing out of dead roots secured in cement. The fortune cookies have the messages of “You will be cured,” “You will overcome,” “You will be worthy,” “You will be normal,” etc that reflect the stigmatism and ableism that surrounds disability issues.
The fortune cookies (amongst other things) represents the same “othering” that disabilities subject individuals to, but also the cultural stereotypes and mis-identification that Asian Americans have been and will always be subject to. From the lesser known forms of discrimination such as the Chinese Exclusion Act to the popular culture of Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Crouching Tiger, etc, the stereotypes that have most affected me are paradoxical: the submissive Lotus Blossom vs the Dragon Lady. The fortune cookie is also a euphemism, one which has been the source of my traumas and subsequent invisible disability.
As someone with an “invisible” disability, I created a gap between the two pieces to reflect the concept of “liminal space” for me in terms of my BEING: identity, citizenship, and place of healing.
A surprise labor of love and camaraderie to be shared by all to celebrate our exciting new journey…