Cultural identity may not belong to the bearer of a cultural tradition, but to the contemporaneous interpreter of it. And the interpretation, no matter how eloquently authentic, often is a raw reflection of the prevalent value of the day.
In the essay titled “We Do Not Work Alone” written by Uchida, Kanjiro Kawai, the famed Japanese potter and the co-founder of Mingei movement, eloquently spoke about the importance of recognizing “art” stemming from cumulative traditions and a multitude of humble and mundane origins.
Working within the paradigm of visual arts, my practice engages the audience by activating the recognizable “cultural” ideations. And how the practice relates to communication, categorization, appropriation and to the context of contemporaneous time.
As a child of immigrant parents and a cultural transplant, my self-identification process was and continues to be bookended by immediately recognizable categorization (race, gender, language and cultural origin). In my art practice, I draw the parallel between the internal self-identification and external expectation of a cultural identity.
Often, visual codes of cultural references are immediately recognized by many, but understood by a few. Through my work, I ask these questions: how does a language (both visual and spoken) evolve in a world where so many different cultural identities co-exist? And how do these differing modes of communication find a common ground?
In my current practice, I excavate various traditional techniques in arts and craft and create contemporaneous artworks using those techniques. Throughout history, each craft tradition was shaped by the economical, geo-socio-political and cultural context of its epoch. Some traditions die out or get absorbed into contemporary industry, while some craft traditions survive the test of time. Among those surviving traditions, I could observe the intangible, yet intrinsically universal value in its practice, a value greater than heritage of the end product. By adapting the process traditionally identified as “craft”, I create to communicate in the more universally recognizable visual language.
With the hind sight of history and in the environment of “flattening of the world”(coined by author, Thomas Friedman), my practice aims not only to interpret the formation of cultural ideation, but also to reflect the collective yearning for connecting with our immediate surroundings & daily rituals beyond those ideations.
At its core, my artworks are about adaptability and connecting with others in a more meaningful way - and beyond cultural identity.