Finding 'A Place of Her Own'

Unless you have a lot of patience, you may not want to browse art exhibits with me.

I have a tendency to spend an inordinate amount of time staring at paintings, sculptures, installations, etc. I like marveling at brush strokes and shadows, while trying to uncover the artwork’s meanings.

My latest discovery: the Asian American Women Artists Association’s exhibit called A Place of Her Own. I found it when browsing the internet. The exhibit runs from September 2, 2010, to October 3, 2010, at the Driftwood Salon in San Francisco.

I lived in California before moving to the east coast for work. So A Place of Her Own left me feeling slightly nostalgic.  I couldn’t see the exhibit in person.

But you know what? I could still talk about it. And talk about it with the nation. After all, the question the women artists answered was applicable to everyone: “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?”

You can see a collection of some of the work featured in A Place of Her Own here:

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What would you want as a private place to reflect upon your past, present and future?  How would you push your creative boundaries by representing these thoughts via art?

When booking this conversation with the exhibit curator Cynthia Tom and one of the featured artists Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, I learned that the project reflects a passion for women’s social justice.

Pelaud’s personal story moved me. She too was a Vietnamese-American (Pelaud was a Vietnamese-French-American, to be exact) who grew up with constantly fighting parents. The stress of her mother and father’s disputes “locked inside her body.” It was like a battle between two sides that could not coexist. It hurt.

Tell me about it, I thought when pre-interviewing her over the phone.

But family fights were not Pelaud’s only challenges. Her ability to grow out of a tough, complicated history communicated resilience and optimism that I admired. As Pelaud said, “I can’t change the past, but I can change the future and create a safe, supportive place.”

Maybe one day, I’ll find my own place.

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