How has being an Asian American woman affected my art?
I am a mixed heritage Asian American queer/Bi woman—I am not gendered separate from how I am raced, and vice versa. My being a woman is integral to my identity as an Asian American—I experience being in this body as a mixed heritage Asian American woman; sometimes mistaken for Latina, West Asian, Eastern European, but always racialized, and always sexualized as “exotic.” These themes and issues are integral to my work, whether I explore my own personal history and identity, or I consider these issues in larger social and political contexts. Being Asian American, mixed heritage, queer/Bi, and open/unfixed in relationship structure are also connected for me. These are all transgressive sexualities that challenge normative ideas of sexuality and identity.
How do I work in my medium?
I don’t stick to just one thing. As a young child I began to paint (watercolor) and draw. When I first moved back to SF I took up collage, a medium of assemblage and juxtaposition. I also make beaded jewelry, which is a process similar to collage—combining a variety of distinct and often found objects into unique compositions.
These forms of visual composition are connected to my writing (poetry, fiction, and academic–I mix the forms and re-write the same stories many ways); Is the medium the message? Does form follow function or vice versa?
How has growing up in San Francisco affected my art?
San Francisco. This is where I grew up in my most formative years (4-18) and this is where I have always returned and have been making my home again since 1997. This is the place of my memories, but more important for me now is that this is the place of my communities. I feel at home here because I am “normal” here. The way I look, talk, and dress. San Francisco is where I feel connected to a family I have chosen of extended friends and community members. The Asian American and mixed heritage arts communities are thriving in the Bay Area, and I work in these communities as an organizer (Kearny Street Workshop, Asian American Theater Company, Asian American Women Artists Association) and as an artist. Seeing the work of my friends and community members inspires me. Participating in creative workshops, and bringing those creative workshops into academic settings is a vital connection between my personal artistic life, my community work, and my “day job” teaching Asian American Studies at SFSU.