My art practice focuses on my multifaceted identity: female, mixed race Asian-American, and white-Evangelical Christian. Within each of these spaces, I have been socialized to deny and discount my own body; my work prioritizes the language of the body. I utilize performance, video and fabric construction to re-contextualize spiritual rituals from earlier forms of Christianity to include aspects of my physical experience.
My performance is inspired by Butoh dancing: my gestures are natural, slow, and hyper-controlled. Japanese Butoh also has connections to Protestant Christianity and could be considered a practice of embodied prayer; my movements are about a state of mind, a vulnerable and contemplative space that allows for deep and dark emotions such as pain, wonder, confusion--emotions which the body has been denied room for--to be expressed. These feelings, though specific to my and my family’s unique stories, are universally felt in the struggle to understand the self and its place in the world. By choosing performance, I want to acknowledge that my self is constructed within relationships. Performance involving audience interaction is a way to explore these conceptual grapplings.
The colors red, white, and black reference blood, life/death, and purity. These are resonant themes for all bodies, and particularly for a female Christian mixed race body. For those biologically female, bleeding is a rite to womanhood, and a reminder of life and its loss; for Christians, the drinking of elements symbolizing Jesus’ blood is a rite to salvation, and a reminder of life after death. I use white to create gradations, or as a transparency to show a multitude of colors behind whiteness; this suggests that purity--racial or sexual--is more complex than it seems.
I use fabric and clothes: material that is about the body and how it is presented to others. Clothes can be twisted, layered, stuffed and removed; this demonstrates the complexities and changeability of identity. Because I often use my own clothes or those of my community, this material contains a personal, intimate history. Covering my body obscures the specifics of my skin or facial expression in order to highlight abstract form and movement. At times, I retreat entirely within the fabric costume, creating a boundary between me and the audience so that a layer of my performance is completely private, only experienced and seen by me.
I obscure words to show their multivalence. Printed or cut text is overlapped or made into a pattern that is difficult to read. Performed words are sometimes precise, sometimes poetic and mysterious. Videos of my performance are altered and played on a loop, creating various versions of the past and present. This technique disrupts the viewer’s perception and reveals the complexities, and sometimes, obsessions, of self-understanding and spiritual understanding in a liminal space. The end result is an intimate, meditative and multi-layered work that explores identity, family relationships and history, and how our experiences, and other’s perceptions of us, shape a sense of self and belonging.
San Jose, CA