Oil paint on wood panel, 36" x 30"
Each year during 清明节, a holiday also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, my ancestors descend to earth to gorge on hometown-favorite dishes prepared by my grandmother. This menu typically includes lobster, fish, pork feet soup, fresh vegetables, and my favorite, 紅燒肉: pork roasted to a deep red-brown color, giving the dish its name. My grandmother is the orchestrator of this theater. After my family sets the table, she opens the patio door. The ghostly figures of my ancestors enter the living room, where they will each find their seats and enjoy the feast, reunited with loved ones.
The composition emphasizes communal gathering—in fact, you are part of the reception, nestled amongst the figures and overlooking the food as if you are an esteemed guest. Come, eat. You are bearing witness to a ritual that emphasizes the blood bonds of my long lineage. My family has persevered through the harsh mistreatment of farmers, famines engineered by autocrats, and perils of immigration and xenophobia. I have each of my predecessors to thank for living full lives and for passing their traumas and ensuing wisdom down to my living generation.
Home is a place we create by honoring each other with effort. Love is an action that we express by cooking and presenting food as gifts. You, too, are welcome here; take a seat at any empty chair.
Exhibited as part of the group exhibition, Connections II, at the Fowler-Kellogg Gallery of Chuatauqua Institution.