Laurel Kam: Visual Cues

Laurel Kam

Artist Reception
Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 6pm - 9pm
CoCA Ballard/Shilshole Bay Beach Club
6413 Seaview Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107


Artist's Statement:
I am interested in exploring how visual information is used to form a person's identity. My work is a reaction to our culture's obsession with categorizing people based on appearance . Approaching my portraits is like approaching an actual person. As you come closer, they reveal them selves to be more multi-dimensional and complex than previously assumed.

I perforate patterns or layer fabric onto the portraits to draw attention to the way we use visual cues to create a person's identity. The pattern is a signifier; viewers must look through the pattern to see the portrait. Patterns carry history and personal associations that control how they are viewed, in turn controlling how the person is perceived.

I never questioned my heritage growing up. My family had come from different countries, just like everyone else. It wasn't until college that I began feeling constantly questioned what race I was. It surprised me because I never felt like I looked different-I just felt like myself. What surprised me even more was the answer people expected. If I told them I was German, but didn't mention I was also Chinese, they wouldn't believe me. It was difficult for me to see in myself what others found so visible. As my identity was questioned, I became increasingly aware of the social binaries we construct and our preconceived expectations.

The camera, patterns and fabric hide and reveal the person. The images act as a prominent visual indication of the limited scope of a judgment based on an outward persona.

Image shown: Peek-a-boo, 16” x 20” x 2”, archival pigment print & hand-dyed polyester, 2012

Show runs: June 9 - August 10, 2012

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