My work invokes my Dutch-Indonesian cultural legacy to address broader themes of cultural hybridity and representations of interpersonal and international power dynamics. Growing up in a diverse community in Southern California as a first-generation American, I took my mixed-race identity for granted. Many of my generation, whose families are cultural hybrids, adapted with an almost unconscious fluidity to their new American identities. Perhaps this adaptation stemmed from the residual pains of immigration and the pressures of conformity felt by our parents. Regardless, our awareness of the grief and dislocation that birthed our multicultural identities was largely ignored as we assimilated to middle-class American life.
I’ve recently been endeavoring to revive the memory of my dormant cultural history and aesthetic traditions nearly erased by this assimilation. This exploration of my Indonesian heritage addresses the trauma of the Indo legacy, asking what this particular history means, and what an understanding of it could mean more broadly for contemporary global culture. For the past six years, I’ve studied the traditional crafts of my Javanese forebears— wax-resist batik, leatherwork, and wood carving—while pushing the aesthetics of these crafts beyond their traditional boundaries. I also quote from the vernacular of Java’s built environment of tiled floors, volcanic stones, and woven bamboo walls. Through this practice, with its embodied tension between traditional handmade craft and contemporary painterly experimentation, I attempt to perform the dislocation and, ultimately, the necessary resolution, of my hybrid identity.
Using imagery informed by my Californian upbringing and education, I appropriate and mutate Javanese craft traditions, incorporating traditional designs to make hybrid representational forms. The relationship between the craft and representational elements can be viewed from different, and often conflicting, vantages. It’s my intention for these conflicts to serve as a symbolic gesture toward the historical reality of the post-colonial condition. Rather than calling for a pat resolution, I hope my work encourages sustained engagement with cultural difference and injustice as an antidote to the racist and xenophobic legacy of imperialism and other capitalist structures.