CAF Intro- Lucy Zhang

Hi! My name is Lucy and I’m a rising junior studying Studio Arts (and possibly Anthropology) with a certificate in Asian Studies. I’m a first generation Chinese American and am really interested in the immigrant experience and how our identities shape our perceptions and realities in the world.

My project for this fellowship is called “Translations” and is a series of multimedia translations of my dad’s poetry from when he lived in China. In my creative process, I engage with barriers in language, generation, culture, and space, and explore topics of diaspora, physical environments and their connection to emotional reality, as well as cultural placement and validity. Through the project, there is a literal piecing together of family materials and knowledge that mimics the experience of growing up first-generation American, as detached and fragmentary comprehensions of generational and cultural past come to inform a present construction of self. This process also calls into question authenticity as it is a recreation of my dad’s art into my own, similar to how my cultural identity may feel like an appropriation of something more “authentic”. However, I also hope to to celebrate and honor the beauty of being in such a state of translation. Whether these works are read as being fully translated, in a state of translation, or even as untranslatable, I hope my project can show how meaning transforms across the many barriers people with immigrant backgrounds face, celebrate those who may feel in a state of translation, and inspire reflection and exchange on topics of immigrant identity. I find the creative process itself incredibly introspective and therapeutic as it involves retrieving, holding, contemplating, nurturing, transforming, and honoring aspects of myself and my family’s cultural and history.

My mentor for this project is Melissa Catanese, who is a photography professor in the art department. I’ve always had an appreciation for photography, but have never had much hands-on experience. Taking Photo 1 with Melissa last year inspired me to explore the connection between image and narrative more, and I’m really excited to incorporate both found family photographs and some of my own images into this project! 

In the future, I hope to continue working with art as a political medium. I’m really interested in social and cultural topics, and believe art has the ability to create meaningful dialogue and change. After finishing undergrad at Pitt, I hope to take a gap year or two to live in China and reconnect more with my roots, then attend grad school for art. As of now, I’m not super clear what my “dream job” is or if I even have one–I think I would enjoy jumping around and trying different careers and lifestyles, but in general I’d love to work in any creative space that can combine activism with art, and I’m so grateful to be able to participate in this fellowship since it is an opportunity to do just that! 

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