美兰靠力 (mei3lan2kao4li4) is a transliteration of “melancholy” meaning to bloom in American requires strength.
I am born of series of propagations—the story of being violently severed and yet finding the strength to grow again and again. With every change in environment, the deepest parts of us take root to build a home and thrive.
This self-portrait explores my identity at the intersection of gender, race, and family. Placed in the Western gaze of a silhouette limited to the bust, I blossom even without a a place of origin. The poppy flower, from which opium is derived, represents reclaiming my identity as an Asian American woman, despite it being weaponized against me.
For much of my life I’ve felt lonely as an only child, as a child of working class immigrants, as a Asian American in a primarily white suburb. Only recently have I allowed myself the tenderness to look inward, to discover where I hold joy and love, to embrace the melancholy of my identity and know I am not alone.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
SueSan is and engineer, designer, and artist based in Chicago and earned a BS and MS from Northwestern University. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, they currently work as a Manager of Branded Environments at United Airlines, where they design inclusive and accessible spaces. Through curating local art in this role, they reconnected with their art practice and now create graphic prints, illustrations, and fine art.
© SueSan Chen