“Hiraeth” describes a deep longing for one’s home. My show’s intimate layout seeks to draw viewers into the world I’ve created as I wish to remember it. At the same time, the depictions of my homes as natural landscapes enable the viewer to enter into a deeply personal space without requiring all of the context that comes with my own story. We are able to coexist in these memories, but neither myself nor the viewer can actually exist in the places I’ve depicted in the way that I wish I could revisit them. The inability to return to the past mirrors the loss that occurs in the prints’ reduction process. Through this meditation of my past I recognize the need to acknowledge the conclusion of one phase and to begin the next.
Things in nature are rarely permanent. The natural landscape of a place changes over time and can change so drastically that it becomes unrecognizable. Because of this, I chose to depict each of my homes with flowers. They last for a certain season before restarting their cycle of withering and blooming. I do not have a permanent childhood home. Growing up in a military family, it is both a blessing and a curse to roam throughout the world. Like the dandelion, the official flower of the military child, I have been constantly uprooted and drift from place to place, wondering where I can finally settle down. As a deeply reflective person, I long to return to these places where I grew up, but the places that exist in my mind no longer exist in reality. In this way, hiraeth is both a word full of joy and of grief. It is a longing for my childhood and all the freedom of a child unburdened by the world. It is also understanding that this season in my life only exists in this moment.
Each print is a meditation on past homes and my understanding of my identity. Throughout the seven prints, seven dandelion puffs float from one location to another. Each puff symbolizes a member of my immediate family. The use of Japanese paper and the vertical landscapes are a subtle nod to my Asian background. The reductive nature of these prints is a two fold process: as I remove more and more of the block, I build up layers of color and depth in the print. Similarly, the more I dig away at my memory, the more I rediscover things about myself.
The colors I have chosen are inspired by nature but may seem more vibrant than one might normally find. As we search our memory, we often remember the good and beautiful moments. In these prints I have presented each home in the best light, not ignoring the dark periods of time, but choosing not to let them define how I see each home now. Each place marks a moment in my life, as expressed by the various times of day throughout this series. Both dawn and dusk represent a sliver of time in which anything can happen. The dandelion is my everywhere and nowhere. It is at once a beginning and an end.