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This Life Given
Summer 2019

 

TRACES, curated by West Harlem Art Fund, A site-specific 360-degree installation 
 

While I was nursing and looking into my daughter's eyes, I often time-traveled to imagine stories of her ancestors from different heritages, which became the point of inspiration. 

I see strong women cherishing their family everywhere. Riding a horse, chasing their flock in Mongolia, enjoying the harvest dance in a Cherokee tribe, cooking fish their son caught in St. Croix, leaving Europe to find a new life, many laughs, many embraces. I also see those protecting children from prior air strikes in Japan, and people who were taken from their village in Africa and forced into slavery in America.

There were billions of life moments from ancient time to today, and no matter how hard their living conditions were, they lived and raised their children. Their survival gave us this life.

In this installation, hundreds of small, mosaic-like fabric squares create a waterfall image vertically, progressing horizontally to symbolize time, and it comes to full circle. Each square is a life moment and harkens back to digital pixels, reminiscent of current data keeping.

I used fabric patterns from all over the world. Clothes were made to protect our bodies, but patterns were created for pleasure and pride, to enrich our lives.

Instead of using photographs, I painted portraits of two great great grandmothers and two great great great grandmothers who were ordinary women, not any historical figures from textbooks, most likely voiceless and invisible in the recent history in America and Japan. I wanted to spend some intimate time with them in my studio because they are my daughter's guardian angels. I'm presenting a personal, family tree of my own as an example, but hoping to embrace all families of the world.

During the exhibition, many visitors shared their family history.  It was meaningful to connect on the feeling that our lives today were a miracle of their survival.

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Before installation photos

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Work in progress at the studio

#workinprogress This will be installed o