My paintings challenge the power dynamics of colonization and contemporary assumptions of the Other and the exotic. I use and undermine art historical tropes to engage with today’s postcolonial, globalized society. In my work, I hope to uncover the effects of globalization and critique perceptions of identity and representations of race. Although the terms race, ethnicity, and culture are often thought to refer to the same aspects of people, they are separate from one another, and each plays a distinct role in identity politics. My work addresses essentialism, cultural identity, religion’s impact on cultural identity, the individual’s role and voice within social structures, and the negotiation of knowledge and the passing of information.
Through colonialism, Orientalism as fashion has been an entirely new condition in itself. Since the 1600s it has been fashionable to adapt and misuse an abbreviated version of cultural ware. There is a complex and physically involved interaction that happens when people put together a cultural patchwork aesthetic.
Throughout my work, I am not only interested in the misrepresentation of cultures, but also interested in how these often become somehow a productive part of new global cultural identities. While my work deals with the intensity and complexity of the displacement that occurs in hybrid globalized communities, it also utilizes a blending of aesthetics as a tool to not lose sight of heritage. My goal is not to rehash old history or guilt, but to find a way to embrace this hybridity and continue the effort of building new meaningful cultural identities for those who have lost theirs. Who has the right to write history? Who has history forgotten? Who has history reidentified? What qualities give definition to groups of people? And what is the individual’s role within larger social identities? These are active questions I engage with in my studio practice. I hope to point out the long history of violence towards, contempt for, dehumanization of, and displacement of peoples.