I’ve been undergoing a lot of transformations in identity. In May, I spent the month in quarantine with my father, at my grandparents’ house in Cupertino. In the 1940s, my grandmother and her family were placed in the internment camps in Southern California, and the house, distinctly Japanese-American in design, is seeped in palpable memories. In a strange confluence of timing, May also happened to be Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I noted the subtle importance of this in searching to define what I was feeling.
In June, I noted it was Pride month, something again I’ve never taken part in or celebrated before. But there was a reason as to why that was. I turned 30 six days later, the start of a new decade, a number that had always marked real adulthood. But the significance of this paled in comparison to what also finally broke out in late May and early June, an incredibly loud—the loudest its ever been—global outcry against the systemic racial oppression thrust upon the Black community. As the tension built, I felt all of the elements of my identity merging, and found myself lifted to this new tier of realization that for the first time embraced all that I am.
In designing this artwork, I wanted to pay homage to the incredibly beautiful Ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese art in the 17th to 19th centuries that translates to “pictures of the floating world.” I wanted to imbue my lineage into the work by reframing a traditional face within a modern context, inserting themes of burgeoning sexual identity, the growth of coming into one’s own skin. There is real power to that. We are all growing like wildflowers. And like wildflowers, there are many of us, and many different kinds of us, but we are all flowers, we all live on this earth, we all drink from the sun. Happy Pride.
Written by Jared Egusa for Youth To The People