Artistic Statement

The quintessential outsider is a ubiquitous figure and their struggle to find “home” outside the dominant constructs of normality is a reoccurring theme in my work. As a Vietnamese boat- refugee, former homeless youth, and violent-trauma survivor, I have tended to swim on the other side of consciousness and am thus drawn to the wandering dispossessed. Perennial wisdom suggests that one can only truly know oneself by leaving home and residing in a foreign land. This act of leaving home is analogous to Heidegger’s existential concept of thrown-ness, an idea that we are “thrown” into an already-made world in which we have absolutely no control in what preceded us. The quintessential outsider is the perpetually “thrown” multi-sided figure. He or she is the refugee, the homeless, the invisible worker, the incarcerated, the mentally ill, and so on. They are outside of the dominant social tribes and thus they are outside of society where they are told home exists. Because they are seldom given access to society’s traditional circles, “home” is always the shifting ground outside of those circles.

It can be said that I am devoted to telling their stories because in doing so I am essentially telling my own. With this there comes the danger of romanticizing that every artist must both make love to and go to war against. As my work consistently demonstrates, I am not interested in beautifying something to produce an aesthetic inebriate that seduces my audience. I prefer work that is raw and real to life as marrow is to bone. The Horizon is a Scar, My Love is a work of raw truth envisaged from fever dreams, hallucinations, and memories. Rather than flying high the banners of “diversity,” it champions the voice of otherness from a lived point of view. It is sustained and whole in its position of nuance as oppose to the ostensible categories of identity.

The vehicle dwellers in this story, “Q” and “Sunday” are the personification of thrownness and transience. They are the anti-heroes of a journey in which the path is broken and the road is endless. Far from being a cry of despair, this is a declaration of our principle existential freedom. Ultimately, are we not all transient? Are we not all thrown onto this speeding freight train of life? Must we ultimately not all reckon with being outside and other as we are born alone and will die alone? The outsider is thrust into this broad knowledge at the cost of immediate happiness. The insider is given immediate happiness at the cost of broadening the distance to that knowledge. The story of Q and Sunday is, in a sense, my story but in another sense, it is our story.