What do you want visitors to your exhibition to take away?
The curtain or wall of fake, red hair divides the space and the works on either side of this physical barrier address different power structures in which we are complicit, that we enable, are systematic, appear invisible, and ones that we can reclaim. The curtain is a metaphor for the thresholds we cross and spaces we enter and exit daily in our lives. A few poignant examples relevant to my exhibition are the rite of passage from girlhood into womanhood; a woman entering male-dominated spaces; and a person of color and walking into white spaces asking questions like “do I belong here?” or “will they let me in?”.
Each side of the curtain challenges female representation—all refer to expectations and assumptions, from being dainty and delicate as a pure white porcelain teacup to being perceived as angry and shrill in our attempts to navigate problematic areas successfully and powerfully. I am frustrated that we have not overcome more as women. These objects demonstrate that we are actively reclaiming ideas and spaces, while also showing that we still have a lot of work to do.
Materials seem to be integral to your work. Why do you use the materials that you use?
Something very important to me is that I am trained as an object-maker. Ceramics and the history of porcelain are central to my work. Discovered in China over 2,000 years ago, it was coveted all over the world for its whiteness and purity. This white desire is something I explore as a desirable material, exoticized by the West, and as privileged racial culture. I often use hair, fake or real, because these delicate strands have the power to identify us to the world, but also perpetuate stereotypes based off the cut, color, and condition of it.
My practice is deeply-rooted in the foundation of craft. Currently, I’m inspired by the hippie beaded curtains, macramé, and the women’s rights movements of the 1970s. During this time, textiles and pottery were considered women’s crafts and not art, but hobbies taught at community centers, churches, and after school programs. I often think about how these were taught to women to keep their hands occupied and keep our voices in domestic spaces and out of public space. I want to deconstruct established hierarchies of materials and champion the handmade.
How would you describe your practice?
I work multidisciplinary with handmade and found porcelain objects, installations, performance, and photography. I am influenced and inspired by the histories and global migrations of porcelain, blue and white patterns, beauty, and popular culture to examine and critique identity, race, and gender. I gather information about objects from museum collections, thrift stores, and antique markets to social media hashtags and female icons like RGB, Beyoncé, and Cardi B, and girl culture. As a third culture kid, meeting and talking to people who grew up being half, biracial, became an important part of my practice. There is a lot of shame and isolation in being different and too much of one and not enough of another, even in one’s own family. It is about telling stories, the migrations of identity, representation of the other and reconstructing identities.
The artist wishes to thank all those who contributed to thick including:
Audrey LeGalley and Michael Foerster
Frances Baca and Daryan Arcos
Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin
Lizzy Gladstone from Sun Nation
Leo Barrios Furniture
Jake Harper from Zollie Glass
Kaitlyn Rex from Glaze Nail Lounge
Anthony Rundblade, Charlie Kitchen, Riley Robinson and everyone at Artpace
Southwest School of Art
Junior of Eureka Sheet Metal
Gary Nichols and Hare and Hound Press
Sama and Roshini
Dr. Deborah Willis
And everyone who sent in affirmations and wrote words of encouragement on beads.