"AUTO-PORTRAIT ZINE"

ADOBE PHOTOSHOP

In reflecting on a historical event that played a significant role in my life, I decided to choose the shooting of Akai Gurley and the trial of ex-NYPD cop Peter Liang as the main focus of my self-portrait zine. This event is responsible for conceiving the Chinese-American activist in me for many reasons, one being that it spawned enormous Asian-American rallies in support of Peter Liang all across the country. On February 20th, 2016, more than 15,000 Chinese-Americans protested in New York, my hometown, on behalf of the rookie police's trial. Among those 15,000 Chinese-Americans stood my mother, who, despite being a reserved, conservative Christian, fought for Gurley, Liang, justice, and, most surprisingly, the Asian-American voice for the first time. This Asian-American political protest was in fact the first for the majority of Asian participants, as there hasn't been a movement among our cultural community quite like this since the L.A. riots in in 1992. These 16 years of silence demonstrates the passiveness. indifference, and absence of a political voice among the Asian-American population. For me in particular, I accredit my passiveness to my Christian upbringing and identity which, to this day, I still wrestle with. In my self-portrait zine, I chose to use the image of a sheep, Jesus' sheep, and Peter Liang's scapegoat, as a means of illustrating my passiveness. As the stuffed toy sheep slowly turns into the slashed out sheep featured in Peter Liang's scapegoat posters, my quietness transforms from young innocence and naivety to something more troubling, confusing, problematic, and alarming. While reflecting on the powerful ideologies of afro-futurism, I also chose to incorporate time-travel in my piece as a powerful means of juxtaposing my mother's growth when she was my age and my growth. The piece, as it jumps from 1980s Beijing to 2000s New York to now, not only illustrates my timeline, my life, and my story, but also the timeline, lives, and stories, of many Chinese-Americans like me. The immigration story of my mother, and other immigrants alike, is a powerful one that I wanted to illustrate as well, as it is not only an integral part of my first generation Chinese-American identity, but it also tells the story of my mother's inspirational transition from being a simple, Chinese student to a full fledged American activist. It's not simply the trial of ex-NYPD cop Peter Liang that impacted my identity, but its effects on my mother, my heritage, my Chinese church, my cultural community, and my Christian faith that provoked me to create this self-portrait zine.

A conscious design choice I made throughout my self-portrait zine was to toggle between black and white and full color. In doing so, I not only draw the viewer's focus on select areas, but I also help the viewer visualize leaping through time.