A bedroom might not seem special to many people. It’s a place where you sleep, hook up, store your belongings and occasionally study. But a bedroom can be so much more — it can be a safe haven from the daily grind, a fortress of solitude or a place that pays tribute to whatever its occupant desires.
The ability of a room to be and stand for so many things to many different people has prompted the Asian American Women Artists Association to ask, “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?”
This fall, the AAWAA organized and hosted an art show at the Driftwood Salon Art Gallery in San Francisco to display the aspirations of the artists featured in the show and encourage viewers to do the same. Asian American women artists of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds came together to share with their community by creating personal installations and displays that had emotional, social, psychological or familial importance to them.
The art show is part of A Place of Her Own, a two-year-old project inspired by Virginia Woolf’s book “A Room of One’s Own.” In it, Woolf argues that women need a place that is entirely their own to stimulate their minds, explore their interests and attend to their personal or emotional needs. Woolf’s novel highlights the importance of pursuing aspirations, especially as they pertain to women in patriarchal society.
“Most of the artists featured in this show have had to overcome certain struggles,” said Cynthia Tom, board president of AAWAA, “and their pieces in the show represent the things or places that emotionally helped them through their difficult times.”
There was a variety of eye-catching pieces at the show. One piece, suspended off the ground, resembled a nest. Another piece looked like a mobile made of glass jars filled with tiny action figures. And one piece was scrawled across the floor of the venue in chalk.
“I thought the piece by Nancy Hom was interesting,” said Adam Chantri, a third-year Japanese major at CSU Monterey Bay, who attended the show. “She had a large multi-colored piece of fabric that was twisted up and rising out of a box of purple sand towards the ceiling.”
Some of the other pieces in the show included paintings, dioramas, large installations, fiber sculptures and photographs.
Each woman used her medium to illustrate her ideal place.
Vivian Truong, a California College of the Arts alumna whose work was featured in the show, chose to create a fiber sculpture of a garden.
“I went through tons of ideas when I was thinking of what to do for this show, and then, after a lot of thought, I realized that my garden is a very special place for me,” Truong said. “This project is about learning to recognize what is important to you.”
Tom hopes that this exhibit will encourage introspection in other people. She stressed the importance of finding a place go, physically or emotionally, to feel safe. She hopes viewers will use this exhibit as a way to learn how to connect with themselves and the community as a whole.
“Each piece displayed was very personal to the artists who created them,” Tom said, “and sharing those pieces with an audience can inspire people to really look at themselves and what they need or want out of life.”
The project will host another show in May 2011, and Tom encourages all art enthusiasts to get involved. Tom is optimistic about the effect A Place of Her Own may have on people.
“This project can have far-reaching arms,” she said. “We’re teaching people to take care of themselves and their community.”