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.