Rooted

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.


Currently I am exploring my complicated identity as an adopted Chinese American. Being raised in Washington, DC by a single mother has left me questioning my origins and wondering what happened to my biological family. For the past five years I have been in contact with 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 former one-child policy (1979-2015), I seek to express my personal narrative through print-based installations, poems, and sculptural multiples.

Five years ago I received a letter from my potential biological sister, which 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.

2019 is another cycle of the year of the pig and it 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 in 2007 where I visited my orphanage and met my foster family. I recently completed genetic testing and located biological relatives in China. I believe that being vulnerable to the invasive genetic testing procedure aids in my research of my heritage and China’s former one-child policy. I am hopeful to revisit China at the end of the year and meet these family members for the first time since my abandonment. From the cultural visit, I plan to further explore the themes of reconciling my two cultures and trauma through print-based installations.