I look to the richness of my cultural history, the natural world, and those who have passed away as resources in constructing worlds. The worlds I create aim to acknowledge these ever-present resources while imagining futures full of healing. In my artwork I draw from the narratives, traumas, and gifts of being mixed-race: Malaysian-Chinese, and white. My visual imagery is full of references to batik, a wax-resist dyed fabric often worn in the form of a sarong (wrap skirt). The history and processes involved in batik are a cornerstone to my practice as I reimagine and reclaim the natural and patterned landscapes of my cultural heritage. Often these reclamations involve inserting root systems and fruit of plants into traditionally derived batik patterns to speak to intergenerational, transcontinental connections. One of the main plants that repeatedly shows up in my fabricated batik language is okra. Okra, a member of the hibiscus family, has beautiful flowers that fit naturally into the floral history of batik and serves as a way to honor my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother who were sharecroppers in South Carolina, as one of the crops they would grow for themselves in their garden while laboring in the fields on others farms. Using this visual language I weave a multitude of materials through my work to consider the layers inherent in connection. Materiality lends itself to complexity, strengthening the bonds between that which seems diametrically opposed: soft fiber and hard ceramic, plastic and natural, to remind us that there is richness and beauty in that which is seen as other.
Batik is meant to be worn, the environments depicted blending into everyday life. I seek this visual abundance and the proliferation of growth motifs intertwining with the human, the mystical, and the natural. Beauty is an integral part to healing. I integrate the worlds I imagine into objects and spaces that reference home. A cookie container, lychee jelly jar, a brightly colored colander filled with green, wild growth. I love the imagery of propagation within the context of the immigrant household. The worlds we imagine can coexist with our daily lives, growing every day as we provide care and attention for them to flourish. If long-lasting effects of trauma exist to prepare you for being on the verge of death at any moment, when we invest in caretaking and creating we are investing in a new future, in healing, and in living. Abundance is the moment of joy in finding what you have gently raised has transformed and flourished beyond imagining. The fruits of the seeds and brokenness you started with weaving themselves into worlds all their own. How then can these worlds find awkward and joyful places in our everyday lives to exist in reciprocity with healing?
I desire abundance: of beauty, of growth, of imagining new futures. These works are a reminder that there are reservoirs of strength I can draw upon from those who have passed away as I try to imagine and construct new futures. Those we have lost: their labor, and their love, are resources that are always available to us as we navigate this world.