“I was the first of my family to graduate from college, let alone earn an advanced degree, and when I finished my M.F.A. at Clemson, both my mother and my father came up for the weekend. I’ll never forget the reception at the home of the department chair, John Acorn, who is this really wonderful human being. He and my father were sitting next to each other on the porch that night, and my father told him that story, the story of my grandfather offering his back to be written on. The burden that my father had from his father, feeling helpless and humiliated by being illiterate, came all the way from Canton Province, China to the porch of John Acorn’s house in Pendleton, South Carolina. And my father, this WWII Marine Corps veteran, this soldier who was at Guadalcanal and at Tarawa, the two bloodiest battles of the war, wept as he told it. To see him relieving himself of this burden, of this family humiliation, and sharing it and being vulnerable was an incredibly raw moment. I saw the power of that story with him, his need to share it, his need to feel a sense of accomplishment and to fulfill an obligation to his own father. It was a powerful force that I’m sure couldn’t contain itself.
"My father died in 1990, a month after I got my first full-time tenure-track job. He was such a warm, kind, well-loved, well-respected man, not only in our family but also in the larger community. When he died, it was the first time I ever felt like I was truly alone. Intellectually I understood that my parents would not be around forever---it’s an unavoidable thing---but the psychological and emotional reality of it, I never had a taste of until then. I'll have his stories forever though, and I'll continue to pass them down. They're very, very important to me. Those stories have played a big part in shaping who I am.”
- Stories on My Back Exhibition at Crosstown Arts (article)
- Stories on My Back Exhibition at Crosstown Arts (Commercial Appeal article)
- Stories on My Back Exhibition at Texas Tech University (article)
- Border Consciousness and Artivist Aesthetics: Performance and Multimedia Artwork (article from American Studies Journal)