College is a time for finding yourself. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, I realized that for the first 20 years of my life, I had hated myself for being Asian. What followed was a sort of second puberty. I was angry, really angry. And a little naïve. My unfiltered rage was unleashed upon stereotype criticisms, white people, and all forms of oppression that I was aware of at the time.
I was mad not only at the sexualization and objectification of women but the additional layer of exoticization applied to Asian women.
I was mad at the model minority stereotypes, the tokenization, and the one dimensional portrayals. (I’ll always love Surf Ninjas, but it hits a little different now.)
I was mad at myself for my delayed realization.
I made a lot of mistakes fumbling through 2011. I was your classic right-wing social justice warrior stereotype. I was learning. I was mad about what I was learning. I had a lot of misplaced aggressions. But it was also a great time to channel those emotions into my artwork. And thus, Generalizasian was born. After it came Frustrasian. (And you can see some pieces where Nubbins began to exist.)
I still continue to make mistakes. But it’s all part of the learning process, and I appreciate everyone who sticks through it with me (and I don’t blame anyone who didn’t). Nowadays, I think I know how to laugh again.
In 2012, I collaborated with Trina Fernandez and Jamil Ortañez on a group exhibit at the R.W. Witt Gallery on the Sacramento State University campus called Generalizasian: Stuck in Racist and Feminist Art. It was a show about navigating what is home, what is our identity, and navigating between and beyond our hang-ups. Below are photos from the exhibit. You can also read what Bobby Edwards had to say about it here on page 8. When you entered, you were greeted with Jamil’s delicate sense of home and memory, which was a mixture of visual, olfactory, and auditory immersion. You walked past home and settled into Trina’s sculpture and photographs of tragic and desperate dolls, trying to exist and be seen, feeling lonelier than ever even with all eyes upon them. Then you bumped into some stacked cardboard boxes, painted on all sides by yours truly. In combination with the large scale mixed media drawings on the wall, you felt a sense of rising emotion, crumpling paper into a ball and throwing it down, but it doesn’t satisfy you. There’s nothing you can do but regurgitate and play along. Finally, you sit down on the couch, near a pile of discarded Barbie dolls in the corner, to watch the video of Alexandra Wallace’s racist rant against Asians on campus.
Here are some additional photos of my Generalizasian work.