Where Are You From? is a non-fiction, graphic novel/anthology following thirty-nine college students whose Asian/Asian American identities shape how they navigate different facets of their lives. Where Are You From explores the intersectionality between Asian identity and family, friendships, dating, college life, mental health, Model Minority Myth, microaggressions, language, accents, and more.
There continues to be a lack of representation of diverse Asian and Asian-American identities in mainstream American media. Yet, that does not make our experiences any less valid or worthy of depiction. Like authors before me, such as Helen Zia of Asian American Dreams and Gene Luen Yang of American Born Chinese, I sought out a means of sharing the conversations and experiences related to Asian/Asian-American identity that I had internalized over my lifetime. I particulary focused on moments between high school and graduating college, when I was most conscious and curious about the makings of my "Asianness" and "Americanness." Where Are You From? began with diary entries, remembered conversations, and comic strips about friends. It continued with sketches on printer paper and finally, drawings on Adobe Illustrator using a Wacom tablet. The total project took about 200 hours to complete over the course of February - April.
Where Are You From was created as my Senior Studio Art Thesis in Spring 2017 at Colgate University. In May, Where Are You From was awarded the Hariette Wagner Award: given to a senior Art & Art History major whose work exemplifies the way visual arts enrich the spirit and express the dignity of human beings. This work was my means of historicizing the contemporary Asian/Asian-American experience and reclaiming the representation of myself in the media.
All of these stories are based on real memories. Thank you to all my friends and family who allowed me to share their stories. Thank you for reading!
Where Are You From? was displayed in the NOTHING IS LESS. LESS IS MORE. MORE IS TOO MUCH. show in the Clifford Art Gallery at Colgate University from April 19-May 21, 2017. Book were available for reading in the gallery. A beanbag chair was provided courtesy of the Shaw Wellness Institute. Book copies were available for order. Over 60 copies of Where Are You From? were sold to students, staff, faculty, and friends during my first "test" round of printing. Books were self-printed and bound by Colgate Document Services. Thank you to all who supported this project. Photos by Angel Trazo and Leo Cho.