I have two bodies of work in my portfolio. The first and most recent work examines the permeability of barriers through the lens of swimming. Swimming is a way for someone to move across spaces that may be otherwise bounded by social, political, or geographic hurdles. In my swimmer series, I am exploring how the body feels as it moves between.
My body is strongly present in this group of work. The suite of drawings (Swimmer I, II, III, IV) are tracings of my body as I laid in various swimming positions on the paper. The tracings are the exact scale of my body and the drawings are large, so when installed together they feel like multiple bodies floating on an unknown journey. These swimmers inhabit a strange black water, unable to see forward, behind, or underneath, but they keep moving nonetheless.
The video work plays with ideas that came from the drawings– Renee, Swimming with Her Shadow is a sculpture with video embedded in it where I swim with my shadow in circles around a miniaturized pool. The journey is endless and pointless, slow circles in an enclosed space. Swimming with Graphite is a performance documentation of me drawing as I “swim” over paper, each stroke leaving its own marks behind in graphite. The resulting drawing holds the sweat and imprint of my strokes. The last video work, Crossing the Sky, uses the pool reflection of the sky as a metaphorical place of crossing. The sky and the color blue, so frequently found in bodies of water, is a color of hope for me as a uniting force of something you can always see.
The second half of the portfolio focuses on fencing found in my neighborhood, both natural and man-made. I was particularly struck by picket fences as well as the lush, more natural fencing made from bamboo. They were frequently used together, an odd combination of a double barrier. The fast-growing bamboo in Chinese culture is associated with strength and resistance, values that as an Asian American growing up in Texas, I have needed to survive. Particularly in the current political climate, the bamboo structure, used to wall off others, stands in for the extreme division dominating the national dialogue, a second way to ward of others, a manifestation of the xenophobia. The picket fences, something I associate with the traditional suburban American home, also serve to reinforce a distance from others, a separateness. The friendly facade of fresh paint and tidy rows of things disguise a deeper fear of anything that might try to invade the carefully controlled territory of the American home.