My blood is proof they exist: degree project
A three-panel jacquard woven series depicting political and social narratives surrounding the Chinese-American adoptee diaspora.
Wall pieces to be installed in a guesthouse for Chinese adoptees returning to China
pt. I, migration
5 x 9 ft, mohair, wool, rayon, Kyototex metallic, opalescent slit film yarn
In the 1980’s, the Chinese government issued the One-Child Policy in an attempt to control population. Due to a long standing cultural preference for sons, hundreds of thousands of female infants were abandoned across China. Many ended up in orphanages and were subsequently adopted by foreigners from countries in North America, Europe, and Oceania. Airplanes, a metaphor for the adoptee diaspora, streak through the composition. Barely visible in the background are a group of figures. In their arms are infants, wrapped in rose-gold threads. The house I grew up in outside of Seattle is depicted here. Overhead, snow falls from the branches of willow trees in Daguan Park, the location where I was documented to have been found by the local police in November of 1994.
Pt. II, acculturation
7 x 9 ft - hand-dyed wool silk blend, acrylic, rayon, opalescent slit film yarn
Until high school, it never occurred to me that I was Asian. Though my parents made valiant efforts to expose me to Chinese culture, I felt no connection or interest. I was content living in the suburbs of Seattle and the thought of another set of parents in China rarely crossed my mind because it registered as an abstract idea rather than a tangible fact. Then, in the summer before my senior year of high school a friend recommended the novel, Messages from an Unknown Chinese Mother written by a Chinese radio host from the 1980’s who privately interviewed mothers who had been forced to surrender their daughters. Their stories opened a doorway into Chinese history, laws, and long-held beliefs I had never contemplated before.
A school bus frames the second woven panel, as squirrels and bluejays dart above a row of evergreen trees. My adoptive father is depicted at the bottom, making his weekly newspaper route while pulling my sister and I in a red wagon behind him. Inside the school bus window, a man and woman sits in a park by the river, looking into a sky filled with Chinese constellations.
pt. III, the return
6 x 9 ft, nylon eyelash, cotton chenille, hand-dyed wool silk blend, metallic Kyototex, opalescent slit film yarn
An illuminated arrow points me in the direction of Gate 136. Dodging throngs of travelers, I take a left down a narrow hallway and the commotion of overlapping voices wanes. For a brief moment, as I watch a plane roll across the rain-slicked pavement and towards the gate, my vision blurs. I’m really doing this, I’m really going. Shrugging off the straps of my backpack, I sit, close my eyes, and wait.
Reflected in the airport floor is a sea of lily pads. The lily pads reference back to my "finding spot" (the location I was found as a baby) near Daguan Park. When I visited the park on my homecoming trip, I saw dozens of elderly women gathered on a pavilion surrounded by enormous lilies to exercise by way of synchronized dance. With the sound of classical flutes drifting from a portable stereo, I felt like I was watching a martial arts movie in slow motion. These coordinated exercise-goers appeared in nearly every public park or square I traveled to in China. Though it was not possible for us to verbally communicate, their presence became a source of comfort and towards the end of the trip I found myself alongside them, clumsily imitating their routine.