Jessica Tu for izmzmag.com
Photos by: James Juranke
Edited by: Ebony Boadu
Q: Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
"I was fortunate enough to not experience severe cases of racism or bullying, although the western standards emphasised in our society did have a large impact on how I feel about myself. The culture my parents grew up in differed so heavily from the one I was brought up in. I struggled to please the standards set on either side.
It's taken me a while to understand that it's not possible for me obtain those expectations. Standards are forever changing and trying to follow them only satisfies other people, but it doesn't make me happy. I am trying to unlearn all the bad habits I'd picked up along my childhood that focused on pleasing others and fitting in."
Q: When has there been a time when you’ve had to overcome something?
"I've noticed that some people feel embarrassed about studying Visual Arts. It's not as glorified compared to other careers like being an engineer or a pilot.... *cough* like my brothers
What I still can't wrap my head around though is the fact that everyone always neglects one part of the picture - how I feel. Why should it be shameful or embarrassing for me to do something I enjoy? It is something that keeps me up late at night. It gives me a voice, an outlet. Something that keeps me calm and keeps my mind off the things that stress me out.
It makes me feel worthy.
It makes me feel capable.
It makes me feel unique."
Q: What is something you’re struggling with right now?
"My parents forced me to speak Cantonese growing up. Apart from The Simpsons and a few Disney shows, I grew up mostly watching Hong Kong shows and films and my family is VERY over protective so I was cripplingly shy and overly dependent. I know that it comes from love, but I also know that I’ve missed out on so many opportunities from it. I’m still trying to break from it and so communicating honestly and directly is a struggle.
I force myself to express and communicate more through my artworks. I used to create purely for the aesthetics... but art is so much more than that. It’s that indescribable feeling of satisfaction, inclusion, and love. "
Q: What is your dream/passion and why?
"My dream is to make an impact. Whether it be helping one person, a few people, hundreds of people, or even just making sure I live my life to the fullest despite all the shit that gets thrown at us. I want that impact to be created through my art. "
Q: What advice would you give right now?
"My advice would be to not settle for what you know. Being able to make yourself aware of social issues helps to break down barriers humans have with one another; to understand, accept and embrace. We tend to dismiss a lot of issues, because many racial and misogynistic micro aggressions are so engrained into our society that it is assumed that it's 'normal' and not something to question.
I spent over a week documenting any sexist and misogynistic comments/actions directed at me. I received at least one every day. From harsh glares based on what I wear to being told to "help out in the kitchen", or the way I'm sitting is "ugly" and "unladylike". It came to a surprise the amount of comments we dismiss or don't question/challenge because it's a part of our everyday.
In order to understand what one truly believes in this world, it is important to vocalise moral dilemmas."