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Asian American Still Life (2020–ongoing)

"Still life" to date more often than not refers to the Euro-centric history of still life, even though many cultures around the world have long practices of the artistic depiction of household objects, food, and the natural world. Moreover, the tradition of European still life has historically appropriated elements from cultures it considered "exotic"--non-European pottery, food, flora, and fauna--to convey sophistication, worldliness, richness from imperialism.

This on-going series seeks to claim space in the "still life" tradition by infusing the practice with Asian American cultural experiences, both from my own upbringing as well as by working with Asian American small business owners and creators.

Read the full artist statement, bio, press, and gallery views here.

All styling and photography by Stephanie Shih.

(For print availability, please contact me.)

Breughel's Breakfast.

This work was inspired by Mayly Tao, second generation Cambodian American and purveyor of incredibly joyful rings of fried dough (via her family's donut shop, DK's Donuts & Bakery). I wanted to combine the exuberance of eating a donut with that of Brueghel's bursting florals, as an homage to cross-sensory experiences that make us happy. (2020)

Edition of 15+2AP. 20x24" archival pigment print on Hahnemühle agave paper.

Midautumn Memento Mori.

The Midautumn Festival celebrates harvest, longevity, and friends and family. Created in the middle of 2020 and six months into quarantine, this piece examines the midautumn themes through the lens of a year marked by separation, loss, and grief. The folk history of mooncakes, gifted and eaten during the festival, notes their crucial role in overthrowing the Mongul occupation: may they continue to remind us of the power of grassroots protest. (2020)

Autumn in California.

California autumn is a whirlwind of flavors. Brazilian passionfruit (with purple passiflora petals still attached, even) sit alongside cinnamon cap mushrooms in the same market. (2020)

Vase with Ten Bunflowers.

Collaboration with ceramicist Raina Lee. (2021)

An Auspicious Start to the Year of the Tiger.

A celebration of lucky fruit, daily life, the new year, and a classic nature morte reminder of mortality. The mandarins are kishus, a varietal transplated to the US from Japan in the 1980s. The pomelo-looking citrus are oro blancos, which were bred in Southern California from a cross between pomelos (which have a long history in SE and E Asia for new years’ celebrations) and white grapefruit. The non-traditional oro blancos are here as a symbol of the continued development and remixing of Asian American experiences. (2022)



Dad's Favorite, Fall.

Persimmons were my dad's favorite fruit, but one not so commonly seen in suburban American markets during my childhood. So my dad would order a giant box directly from a grower each year, and keep them in our unused brick chimney to eat over the course of several weeks. (2020)

Edition of 15+2AP. 10x12" archival pigment print on Hahnemühle agave paper.

Dad's Favorite, Summer.

Watermelons were another of my dad's favorite fruits. After dinner during the summers, he would pull a giant watermelon out of the fridge and proceed to expertly carve it into cubes that were too large for anyone's mouth but his. My mom and I would watch him fill up the special watermelon tupperware bucket, while complaining vocally about the size of the cubes and cracking open spiced watermelon seeds, which my dad despised. (2021)

Still Life with Ube.

This work features treats from Ube Area, in San Francisco Bay Area. (2021)


The flowers here were saved and dried from other pieces through the series for 2 years, and placed alongside persimmons scavenged from a neighborhood in Hollywood, hand-massaged hoshigaki, and a Terada family heirloom vase from imperial Japan. (vase courtesy of Andi Terada and family, 2022)

Pantry Exotics, 1.

A too-familiar experience for Asian Americans is to have everyday items in their pantries exoticized and then used to ostracize: dried fish is considered "stinky", the black-fleshed century eggs are judged "gross" or "rubbery". But for those of us who grow up with these items, they represent the comforting familiarity of a part of our cultures. (2020)


A response to the still life vanitas tradition, this is a tableau of addictions--historical, contemporary, and perpetual--from poppies to (my personal vice) sugar. (2021)

Still Life with Armor.

A still life for the hard shells we've grown to protect our sweet centers. Mace by Lucien Shapiro. (2021)

Ugly Duckling.

A symbol of celebratory feasts in Chinese cuisines, a duck is judged most by the quality of its skin. This work features local LA staples: Cantonese roast duck from Sam Woo BBQ and peking duck from Moonhouse. Protector bone club by Lucien Shapiro. (2021)

Onggi with Six Kimchi.

Pickled cabbage—and especially kimchi—is such a prominent part of Korean and East Asian cuisines, as well as an important export touchstone into new Asian American fusion (e.g., LA tacos!). This work is a Los Angeles-centric collaboration featuring onggi-inspired pots by ceramicist Eunbi Cho and handmade kimchi by Oliver Ko, Korilla Kimchi. (2021)

Edition of 15+3AP. 16x20" archival pigment print on Hahnemühle agave paper.

Spring (春). 

This work features handmade mochi from Chikara Mochi, in Gardena. (2021)

In What Image of Man.

Collaboration with Raina Lee. (2022)

Flower Brick.

Delftware in the Dutch tradition imitated Chinese pottery, often evoking scenes of East Asian life to decorate their ornate but curiously-shaped tulipiere vases (coinciding with tulipmania). One such shape was the rectangular flower brick, which subsequently fell out of popularity. Here, I rebuilt this particular style of tulipiere vase, brick by Lego brick. (2021)


Part one of a duet celebrating the nostalgic, all-American Halloween candies of childhood. (2020)

Edition of 25+2AP. 10x13" (20x26" diptych) archival pigment print on Hahnemühle agave paper.


Part two of a duet celebrating the nostalgic, all-American Halloween candies of childhood. (2020)

Eat Bittersweet.

The Chinese adage "to eat bitter" means that one must suffer through hard work and hardships in order to achieve and grow. While it's a notion that's often abused in "tiger parenting" culture, it is still useful as a reminder from time to time: except, my Chinese-American take on the phrase is to "eat bittersweet", remembering the sweet moments that exist alongside the struggles. This work features chocolates from Milla Chocolates, and candlestick by Lucien Shapiro. (2020)

(Epilogue) Kurisumasu Keki.

My take on the Japanese tradition of Christmas cake, in wreath form. (2020)

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