Currently I am exploring my complicated identity as an adopted Chinese American. Being raised in the United States by a single mother has left me constantly questioning my origins and wondering what happened to my biological family.
A grove of trees grew in my absence
Twelve years ago I was left here, on a doorstep.
That doorstep no longest exists,
I have no memories of that home,
That place has since been demolished.
I have no memories of this place,
For I was only a newborn when I was abandoned
(My body remembers)
When I left they planted a seed
That seed grew in a thinly settled forest of other abandoned children
I stood hollow and empty amongst the other trees
My roots were ripped from beneath me before I could gather the words to speak, the nutrients to grow
I needed to grow
So I was transplanted.
For the past four years, I have been in contact with potential biological family members in China, specifically my older sister. Through my art practice, I process my abandonment, recall memories, explore hybridized Chinese American culture, and contemplate the unforeseen possibility of reuniting with my biological family. As a byproduct of China’s one-child policy (1979-2015), I seek to express my personal narrative through print-based installations, poems, and sculptural multiples. The laborious nature of repetitious printmaking serves as a process method for abandonment trauma.
Ever since childhood I have drawn images in obsessive repetition, depicting idealized, imaginary family scenarios. I consider these recurring, compulsive motifs a precursor to my passion for printmaking. Two years ago I received a letter from my potential biological sister. This inspired my series Blank Postcards to my Sister and created a recurring mail art motif. These motifs are in conversation with the passage of time since my birth and adoption in 1995. In these cycles I reflect strongly upon the Chinese lunar calendar, specifically the year of the pig (1995, 2007, and 2019). Through my practice, I juxtapose imagery and memories from my childhood and everyday life to indicate the correlation between the past, present, and future.
With the forthcoming year of the pig, my work also will have a new beginning — 2019 marks 24 years since my adoption. The year of the pig in Chinese culture is considered an auspicious year. It also is twelve years since my first visit back to China where I visited my orphanage and met my foster family for the first time. I am in the process of completing genetic testing to match biological relatives in China. I believe that being vulnerable to this invasive procedure will inspire my research into China’s former one-child policy. I plan to return to China this summer to reunite with my biological family and experience Chinese art and culture in furtherance of reconciling my two cultures. I plan to study the contemporary Chinese artists Gu Wenda, Qiu Zhijie, Sun Xun, Qiu Jie, Ai Wei Wei, and Song Dong.