The story of my life is a journey of transformation. The mandala has as its center the lotus. From that center my life radiates, with transformation happening on several levels: my migration from my birthplace in China to New York City, then to San Francisco. Another transformation is the cultural shift from a traditional Chinese upbringing, to the political struggles of the ‘70s, to the multicultural arts community I am part of today. And there is my transformation from a reticent child to a person who is continually challenging herself, both artistically and personally.
Besides the depictions of my creations and influences, there are three significant metaphors in this piece. The lotus grows in muddy water; then rises out of the muck to become a beautiful flower. It is a symbol of immense resilience and fortitude. The butterfly, which emerges from a cocoon, represents for me the shedding of my old restrictive outlook, whether self-imposed or by my parents, and emerging as a colorful, vibrant person who meets the world on her own terms. Prayer flags, which carry the blessings of love and compassion, symbolize my extension into the community as an artist who aspires to bring light and healing into the world.
(Mandala was created for Our American Stories by AA Artists; Illuminating History, Culture, and Identity exhibition at City College of San Francisco, curated by Judy Shintani. Photo by Bob Hsiang. Image first published in Sunset Magazine, 2015)