My participation in the very first phase of ESCO Alley Art last year was such a wonderful experience, that I was thrilled to have the opportunity to create a new piece for the 2022 season. Similar to last year’s mural, my new painting incorporates many of the themes, colors and design elements that are prevalent in my personal art. It also reflects my culture and identity as a part of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community.
While the subject of the painting appears lovely and content, the piece is actually a response to what I’ve felt has been a very challenging and emotionally trying time for me personally, the last year in particular. What I’ve come to realize is that happiness is a choice. So while this painting initially came from a place of pain, ultimately, it is a reminder: that I am worthy of love and happiness; that I deserve to put my needs first; to always protect my emotional and mental well-being; to create a supported space for myself that is built upon self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-awareness; to choose joy and practice gratitude for all that I am and all that I have; and that I have the power to manifest the happiness I seek. Inspired by my favorite artist, Frida Kahlo, my mural features a self-portrait, bright colors, and dramatic symbolism. With my signature braid and overalls, (where for once I am the focus and larger than life), I am painting a flower with gold leaf. The look on my face is of determination, but the gesture is unnecessary and excessive – as shown by the extra gold dripping off the petal. My brush is capable of creating beauty, and the flower glows with the effort, but the message is simply about authenticity…that the flower is already naturally beautiful as is, no need to “gild the lily”. In my hair, rests a monarch butterfly, symbolizing transformation, strength, endurance, and hope. Each of the flowers depicted were purposefully chosen for the symbolism they represent. The white magnolia represents perseverance; the deep pink rose represents gratitude; the pink chrysanthemum is symbolic of loyalty and longevity, and is the flower for my birth month of November; the meaning of the blue morning glory is renewal and resilience, with its ability to grow and thrive in challenging situations; the hibiscus represents feminine power. Above the bold colors of the sunset sky floats a gold lotus flower design as a reminder to stay grounded, while rising above muddy waters with clarity and purpose. And finally, the Chinese characters in the middle of my mandala tattoo are “zi-xin” which means “belief in oneself”. The message I hope to convey through my painting is how important it is to practice self-care, prioritize mental health and well-being, and learn to love ourselves first. We all have the power within to create our own paradise.