“For my Asian American Studies 240: Southeast Asian Migration and Education final project, I wanted to create something that visually captured the importance of representation within the classroom by sharing the perspective of other Southeast Asian students at UW-Madison. I drew upon the theories of Critical Remembrance and Asian Critical Theory to invoke introspection in students that forced them to deeply engage with their experiences. I asked students a few questions about their identity and their schooling experiences to build profiles around them. What was it like to be Southeast Asian in the Midwest and to feel seen or unseen? How did their multiple identities impact that? To me, this project was equally about my own digging into their experiences, but also asking these participants to partake in a discussion with me and reckon with their own truth.
In terms of delivery, I chose to contrast the narratives of exclusion with imagery that was attention grabbing. Using blurred portraits to maintain their anonymity, I hope to display how this translated to their K-12 schooling and college experience. With the use of bold colors, this art piece intends to contradict that experience and force viewers to notice them. It’s bright, pop art-y and is a visual shout for attention for those who were traditionally ignored. These are Southeast Asian students on our campus who, even now, feel ignored by our educational system. Through this art piece, I hoped to reiterate our presence at UW-Madison and in higher education– an affirmation that these spaces may not be built for us but we will not let that silence us.”