Should I ask you for your story (and your identity), you would likely, at least, tell me of a somewhere, a place, a culture and experience associated with it. You might tell of the place you were born, the home you grew up in, maybe the values, cultures, experiences that have been inevitably connected to your story in each of these places.


Maybe you would tell me of a lack of place, or too many places.


Maybe you would think about it, and tell a story of confusion.


Mine is a story of confusion and dislocation — of becoming more aware of myself in uncomfortable ways (though “uncomfortably” is perhaps the only way we can become more aware of ourselves), of duality, of seeing bits of myself magnified by differences.


There is a sense of heightened consciousness when one is introduced to a different environment, and in Two (To), I am exploring my identity as a Chinese-American, and the tensions, self-awareness, connections, and alienation that come with the two-part word. What I have and what I do not have, who I am and who I’m not, what I know and what I don’t know: these are magnified by the seemingly irreconcilable differences, resulting in a feeling of hyperaware caution, a detachment from both my Chinese side and my American side.


Yet despite that disconnect, there is still an inevitable attachment to the tension and the things that come out of it. Perhaps the attachment is to the greater self (the identity that one cannot be separated from) and the appreciation and value that can be found in that. So though my story is one that contains dissonance (whose doesn’t really?), it is a tension that is necessary to my understanding of self, and moreover, integral to my identity, which is both deeply and simply expressed, more beautiful and more purposeful than a simplistic sum of parts, as it is for all of us.

Two (To)


(My belongings, string, wood)