In the following three paintings, I explore the relationship between self-projected image and reality. They document some of the ubiquitous "Welcome to Chinatown" signs that are strung about the neighborhood and the buildings that are directly behind them. There is tension between the past and the future as that which created a sense of place and identity is changed, piecemeal, by new developments.
Manhattan Chinatown has few buildings marked for Landmark Preservation that celebrates its Asian-American heritage. However, these curious buildings of a hybrid foreign character stand out, almost resolutely, in their surroundings with their unusual colors and forms. America is a mix of coexisting cultures, and finding one's place in it is a process of discovery, a process I hope my work chronicles and invites.
Often faith communities play a major role in welcoming new immigrants, helping them acclimate to their new home and providing much needed support. From my experience, I've seen how Chinese Christian churches in particular are an integral part of the multilayered American landscape. Their existence complicates the image of Asian-Americans as perpetual foreigners. "Chinese Churches 1 & 2" are scenes that include church buildings as part of the Chinatown landscape.
The following pieces are scenes of Astoria, where I live. The neighborhood, like much of Queens and indeed the whole city, is going through rapid changes. The scenes I've depicted are instances of idiosyncratic development where old meets new or little absurdities arise.
This was an early piece in this body of work which overall explores the use of mixed media to reflect the juxtaposition of textures found in the city.
These two houses were some of the only ones left standing in a block of newer, larger apartment complexes. They were isolated islands, holding the idea of home and yet themselves displaced, a state I identified with as a recent transplant to New York. Projection of self onto environment is an idea I touch on throughout my work.
Middle school students in the Bronx responded to what they would like to see in their neighborhood and what they thought their contributions could be. Most of the characters were created by the students; above in the train are representations of different careers they would like to pursue, there is a playground scene of students being active and playing together and characters peek out of apartment windows. NYC graffiti artist, Sonic, came to the classroom and lead workshops on graffiti lettering, which was utilized to create inspirational words for the mural. IS117 and TYWLS are different schools in the same building; both schools contributed to the project and the students mingle and unite in the painting despite differences. This is the interior wall of the main student exit, making the mural the last thing they see before they leave the school.