Jarod Lew
A tattooed woman, a beauty mask on her face, arms stretched above her head.

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Collection of the artist

Jarod Lew started exploring what he calls “the contradictions inherent to constructions of Asian American identity” upon learning that his mother had once been engaged to Vincent Chin, a Chinese American who was killed in an anti-Asian hate crime in Michigan, in 1982.

Here, Lew presents Gracie, a Korean adoptee, sitting in the dining room of an American suburban home. With her tattooed arms raised over her head, a beauty mask covering her face, and a Homer Simpson T-shirt, Gracie and her surroundings suggest the intermingling of generations and cultures. The mid-century modern hutch holds carefully placed tableware, as well as a maneki-neko (lucky cat) and a matryoshka doll. These objects, along with the head of a dummy and other knick-knacks, contrast with Gracie’s own presentation.

Together, the multiple cultural backgrounds represented in this scene make clear the complexity of Asian American identity.