Conceived of by scholar Fernando Ortiz in the 1940’s, the concept of transculturation put forth a new political theory of cultural contact, one that does not define itself only in oppositional relation to the histories of colonial dominion. In this intermingling of different peoples and cultures, new cultural phenomena are born. In Musings of an Origin, I examine the complicated narrative of American transcultural identities, abandoning figural narrative in a traditional sense, and test the hybridity and hierarchies of painting techniques, materials and philosophies from the lineage of the “West” and Asia.
In my paintings, actual figures are replaced with painted gestures, leaving human traces through the acts of my hand and body, within an abbreviated, minimal space somewhere between the void in Asian painting and a landscape horizon line. Embellished with painted historic regional textile designs that act like patriotic uniforms, the gestures refer to the Asian painted textiles that once adorned the bodies of high society in France, Britain and America. The gestures envelope, penetrate and permeate each other among echoes of water motifs and fluids; signifying the separation of nations, and dissolving of the painted bodies. The historic worldwide textile trade was itself a centuries-old, complicated narrative of migration, hierarchy and power. The nonverbal aesthetics of textiles transcends language barriers, yielding notable capacity to be culturally absorbed. Silk, painted, singled and attached onto the paintings in fractured panels, pays homage to the Silk Roads, an ancient vein of cultural and religious exchange.