Pen and paper on genuine collegiate award, 5 by 7 inches, 2021.
My work has a cathartic function, allowing me to recontextualize my history and feelings about relevant issues through objects-turned-art. However, my work does not exist to only serve myself. Ingrained in my works are motifs and other real-world connections that give the audience a place to start from and then explore. I breach my own privacy by allowing others to vicariously relive my perspective; others are able to relate my experiences to their own lives when recognizing familiar imagery or echoed concepts.
I was the product of a doomed collision between different backgrounds, inheriting trauma from colonialist-rooted domestic abuse; my paternal grandfather is an immigrant who married my upper-class-settler grandmother. My maternal Black grandmother married my Dutch immigrant grandfather. Both families made my mother and father harbor so much shame and depression that when they met by chance, they abused each other for years before I was born: the literal separation and new target.
I was raised to believe I had no place in the world and had to earn the privilege of being loved. I felt for so long I had to prove I was worth the air I breathed, justifying my existence by breaking my body and mind, and perpetuating the cycle of abuse on myself. I was to carry my family names, bleed, produce success, and repeat until I died. While I succeeded for many years, every very important award I got rung hallow through my soul. What mattered was the sense of belonging.
It wasn’t until I felt unconditional love that I realized that my value wasn’t attached to conventional success. I do not have to continue my family’s legacy of oppression, either subjected to or enacting. I don’t have to bleed to prove myself worthy of love. Now those very important awards serve as heirlooms of suffering.
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