Stephanie Ng

Memories & Identity

Pt 1: Pre-COVID-19

“I’ve always been afraid that people judge me because I am Chinese. I had been futilely trying to uproot my own tree my entire life. This installation represents the path I have taken to accept myself”

How do trees make you feel? It may seem like a silly question, but trees are symbols for many things, such as growth, transformation, liberation, and strength. I originally chose trees as the subject of this semester’s exhibition to create a visual representation for my story of being an Asian-American. I decided to explore my relationship with my identity because it is an experience I share with many other Asian-Americans.

I chose to use metal as my medium for this installation because of its cold and melancholy nature. It is ironic that the trees are made from an inorganic material, giving it no opportunity to grow. At the same time, I am trying to allude to the fact that appearances do not necessarily change identities. In this installation, just because the metal wires have been bent into trees does not make them real trees. These figures do not even have roots to hold them down to the ground. This contrast captures the tension and struggle that one experiences when they are battling with themselves to embrace their own identity. However, just as I, and many other Asian-Americans have realized, it takes time to learn how to embrace our identity. I wanted to give some life to the bare trees to resemble the progress I’ve made with accepting my identity. To do so, I made many flowers out of red envelopes. The red envelope flowers celebrate my culture in this piece, which shows the progress I have made with accepting myself.

Pt. 2: During COVID-19: Collage Series

“My greatest fears of hate and aggression towards my ethnicity have become a clear reality”.

Unfortunately, this installation had to come to a pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, rather than working with 3-dimensional art, I have shifted to making collages. These collages reveal how Asian-Americans have been affected by the increased racism and xenophobia due to the pandemic. I am utilizing images and new articles related to Anti-Asian racism that have arisen because of this virus. This may seem like a stark deviation from my original work, but actually it enhances the meaning of my original project. My greatest fears of hate and aggression towards my ethnicity have become a clear reality.  I am hoping to create collages that are so beautiful that they distract the viewer from the words of hate and fear embedded in the collages.