Throughout my work, clouds are a repeated motif. They have represented connection, tradition, belonging, home, family, an idealized landscape in an ever-changing environment…but I first drew them to feel connected to China through old Chinese pottery. While I sculpt, brush, scratch, and carve clouds into gourds and stools, I reconsider what my childhood could have been like had I grown up in China. Yet, this is a stilted imagining as I am an American-born Chinese who grew up in rural Oklahoma. Would I care so much about my roots if I had grown up surrounded by people who looked like me? My anxiety over home as a place pushes me to labor over “home” as a feeling—since I fear I do not quite belong even now.
With climate change intensifying and no real reform coming from lawmakers, my anxiety spikes while my sense of belonging wavers. I reference motifs and forms from China to romanticize a time period of a country I have no real connection to as an American. These complications of identity, place, and belonging in my work reveal a need to resist the trap of stagnant definitions as I figure out my role in America. Do I even want a home here? My work is a sandbox to figure out these questions and share these incomplete answers with my audience.