"IDENTITIES" is a photography installation project starting with my family’s identities—and a project I want to expand to contribute to a national discourse on mixed-race identities at this key anti-racist time. My daughter, who is half Haitian American and half Japanese American, was born and is growing up in New York City. I was born in Japan and came to New York City in 1997. My husband was born in Haiti and grew up in Brooklyn. In New York, we have let go of some aspects of our original cultures, and at the same time, we have not sought much to assimilate. Through the process of creating "Identities", I search to visualize our roots and the cultural tendrils that have grown and intertwined from them and also address the issues of mixed-race identity, racism, and immigration in America. I want to look at biracial/multiracial issues related to others who thus identify and explore questions of biraciality or multiraciality in a range of US locales.
After working on social engagement photography projects with multiple communities for 6 years, I started working with my own mixed-race family, and our diverse community contexts in New York City. The number of people who self-identify as biracial/multiracial is growing. We are supposedly living in a post-racial place, but racism and bias towards people of color remain alive. I am creating complex and some whimsically self-costuming images of mixed-race life, its public and private faces, using my art as a tool to explore racial identity, race relations, public presentation of the self, and cultural norms.
Nowadays, we often see mixed-race people in magazines, TV, and ads on streaming services and on billboards, and such looks are becoming mainstream in the fashion/music industries. But biracial/multiracial people are still a minority with complex public and internal pressures concerning self-presentations; they often are not encouraged to embrace the duality of their heritage. Americans tend to divide, separate, segregate and categorize people based primarily on the color of skin. Through my art exhibitions and related events, I want to stir discussion and break the silence about biracial lives.