mixed media paintings and assemblage, 2008 - present
alien american/asian american (top left & center)
I have lived under the Japanese flag and the American flag, owned the passport of one country, then of another. This diptych memorializes the two cultures that are a part of me. The Japanese flag is layered with calligraphic journal pages and my Japanese passport is surrounded by paper cocktail umbrellas that conjure up the "Made in Japan" stereotype. The American flag includes my Japanese birth certificate, application for citizenship, US passport and stars & stripes toothpicks. Years ago, during a lunch break, I went to the INS to take my citizenship exam. When I got back to the office, my colleagues surprised me with a celebratory cake. On it were nearly 100 US flag toothpicks. I shall never forget the day I gave up one country for another.
he'd never seen her out of uniform (top right)
This was the excuse San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom gave for not recognizing Heather Fong at the swearing-in ceremony of her replacement, George Gascon. When I told my friends I'm making a piece about Heather Fong, their initial reaction was a blank look, followed by "Who's Heather Fong?" I have nothing but admiration for this former police chief, who broke gender and racial barriers to serve San Francisco for five years. She took leadership at a time when SFPD was floundering in the wake of Fajita-gate. The mandate from the major was to reform her own department, which must have been a difficult and lonely task. Throughout, Fong kept her private life private, behaved as an ultimate professional, and never stooped down to the level of her critics. She understood the power of silence, when the room was filled with loud voices. I suspect she rarely took the easy way out or badmouthed people behind their back. For her quiet strength and backbone made of steel, I salute Heather Fong as my muse. And her former uniform salutes her. Enjoy your next phase in life, Heather.
we spread out legs for all possibilities (third row left)
Controlling conception is the game we play, the Russian roulette of pills, shots, knives, vacuum suction and test tubes. We spread our legs for sex because the Pill protects us. We spread our legs for abortion because we aren't ready for a baby. We spread our legs for egg-freezing because we're too old for natural conception. And we'll spread our legs for cloning, just as soon as the ethical debates are over. Yes we do: we spread our legs for all possibilities. And forget that there will be blood. Messy messy blood. Plenty of it.
denim wash blues (second row center)
Denim wash blues, with bottles outlined in bleach on re-sewn denim pieces, depicts society's thirst for stylish casual clothing at bargain prices and the environmental impact in areas where "wet industries" are located. The market for denim jeans is expected to exceed $65 billion by 2015, with Americans alone purchasing 450 million pairs of jeans each year. The appeal of jeans is universal, in their comfort, fit and durability. Yet jeans are not simply cut, sewn and shipped by manufacturers. They go through finishing processes by "wet industries" located in countries such as Mexico and Lesotho. To create the desired worn-in look, jeans are bleached, dyed, washed, pumiced, blasted and enzymed. The discharge from these processes too often spills into rivers where drinking water is already in short supply. I created this piece so we can reflect on what those rivers look like. The color of water is cyan blue.
28-day regimen (third row center)
The Pill promises sex without regrets. Control so free and easy! One just has to follow the regimen: a pill a day for three weeks, then let the body wash away the egg. As a sexually active young woman, I felt the same freedom my boyfriend had each time I opened the pretty clam-shell case and swallowed my protection. It didn't register that inside each cute dispenser was a baby impossibility. In tiny print the onion skin enclosure lists possible side effects: mood swings, blood clots, heart attack, stroke, deformed fetus. The Pills gives control, but conceals the decay of youth and health.
The First Year (fourth row center)
Jean Quan became Oakland's first female and Asian mayor by the quirky mechanics of ranked choice voting. During her first year as mayor, the issues she confronted didn't have much to do with being a feminist or ethnic minority, but with murky, complex issues around joblessness and disenfranchisement. Blamed for waffling and poor decisions, Quan is learning the difficult lesson of becoming a leader: the buck stops with her.