Gigi Lin – The Gardener( Third Piece) of the Series “Changes”
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Asian American and Chinese
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Millennium High School
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The Gardener( Third Piece) of the Series "Changes"
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As I was constructing this piece,The Gardener, my mind felt this internal need, responsibility, and drive to convey something beyond the idea of realism. I wanted to explore beyond the borders of what a traditional portrait should look like. Growing up in what I thought was a "diverse" community at school, I never was concerned about what people thought of me, never worried about who I was, and what type of people surrounded me in the future. Starting in high school, these differences became more clear to me and I notice that I have become a person I didn’t recognize anymore. I was quiet. I was timid. I felt like I had been swallowed. Everyday I came home, sickened to my stomach with frustration, disappointment, and asked myself questions like “ Who am I?” and “What happened to the outgoing person that I was?”. In high school, I felt a sense of displacement with the people that I was around, indifferent to each other, and there was no one that shared creative expression that I could relate to. Coming to my last semester in high school, I realized that the things that I was afraid of were only small things that I have overcome and have yet to appreciate, learn, and grow from. The Gardener is a reflection of myself that I want young people, people that are going through changes, or people who are going through struggles to see, understand, and connect to. In relation to my first piece Roses for You and second piece The Shadow, The Gardener is a piece that further explores the depth of an individual’s physical and internal experience. Through varied brushstrokes, colors are fused together which creates an overwhelming heightened moment where many forms of desolation are being revealed. The overarching concept is the emphasis on the importance for individuals to control flow, whether it is external or within them. This piece uses key symbols from the concept of Roses For You: “slipping away from society”, such as the rose and the “stained body” to unfold into a new stage where the individual came to a realization where they need to accept and face circumstances where many things may seem uncontrollable(“overflowing of dark colors”) often due to fear (“red stains” from the red roses). If we were asked about names and contributions of women in popular genres such as women as actors, women in science fiction, and women in literature, it would not be the same as if we were to list men. Women are often not seen as the protagonist in the stories, films, and books that we read and talk about. I made this piece in dedication to remembering the women writers, activists, and leaders that came before us because their passion, spirit of defiance, and creating their own space to write under an open sky lives within us especially young girls today. Reading Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” has encouraged me to continue having a positive mindset that my thoughts are as valuable as a man’s. And it is incredibly special and important for every individual to value their own strengths, qualities, and originality in order to truly be conscious and in control of the world around them. In the real world, the protagonist is not the mind of a male or female, but one that is androgynous. One embodies both female and male characteristics. Have hope and support those who are able to understand struggle because one day you will be a part of the garden and see the different flowers that the Gardener have been growing all along.
What is something you learned about gender and what is something you would like to change about what you learned?
This year, in my Gender and Literature class, we studied the creation story of Genesis and later on, I wrote a creation story of my own called “An Island of Nothing is One of Hope'' where rather than concentrating on the large task at hand of how to dismantle patriarchy and how we can break away from societal expectations of gender roles, I wanted to understand the root of gender inequality. I told a story of a world that was in response to Genesis. In Genesis, it was told that God created Eve out of Adam’s womb and Eve was created to cure Adam’s loneliness. In Milton’s version of Genesis, Paradise Lost, Eve is punished at the end by God for eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Thus, this raises the question of whether Paradise Lost encourages or defies gender roles? In response to Genesis and Paradise Lost, in my story, the creation of male and female are parallel to what happened in Ges. In my story, God requested for the man to help him create the women by bringing these seeds onto a mysterious island and then God told the man to strictly leave the island right after he had planted the seed that would eventually make woman on the new island, however the man was the one that didn’t obey at the end. Thus, what I realized throughout this writing process was what if the man and the woman did compromise at the end, unlike what happened in Paradise Lost and Genesis. At the end of my story, God punished women and men for their actions, however rather than blaming each other for their faults and judging on who was responsible for their actions, they decided to abandon the separate islands that God had given them and move to an unknown third island and start a new life. Towards the end of my story, I mentioned “God was angry at both the man and woman for going out of their boundaries so He cursed the woman’s womb with a child whose fate would be death, five years after birth. God’s punishment for the man and woman was sin. The man and woman realized that God’s punishment was too cruel. He wanted them to feel the sensation of guilt by letting them feel pain in which they failed to take care of life and left helpless as they witnessed Death happening from their very hands. Despite God’s abandonment, they did not want to live their lives in misery, but rather with hope. They decided to start a new life together on the third island. By having faith in each other, they taught each other about their roles and worked together to gather herbs, plant crops, and raise cattle to provide for their child. Taking care of their child and creating life around them was their source of happiness so they gave birth to more children. They want their children to appreciate everything they have and to live out their lives the way they want, they have to embrace each other’s qualities and learn to take on different roles.” Through thinking and drafting the end of how I would solve the form of inequality that was present in my story, I realized that the solution to patriarchy is more tangible than we think in our world today. I learned that different roles and qualities of an individual should not define them, but rather humans should embrace each other’s differences in order to learn and experience the most out of life and to improve themselves as a person. Something I would like to change about what I learned after reading many different creation stories where the gender spectrum is binary and specific roles are assigned to male and female is to further explore this idea of “knowledge” and to implement and continuously think about how this idea has changed throughout literature. In order to further understand how we can empower and encourage gender expression to the youth, women, people of color, and marginalized communities, we need to listen to each other and allow everyone to speak their truths. One of the memorable parts while I was reading “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf was how she explains the reason why there are no women in science fiction and what needs to be done in order for there to be change following her “train of thought”. She mentions how women face reality differently from men: the quality of education, settings in which they are raised, and most importantly, the opportunity that they have to think and communicate with each other. Woolfe draws a clear and interesting comparison between a luncheon at Cambridge which is a women’s college and at a male university. Meals at dinner time are supposed to be processed slowly and made enjoyable, thus Woolf says a meal is open up to be a “rational intercourse.” Thus, Woolf suggests that good food allows people to form good thoughts and an exchange of thought, however throughout history, it is evident that women colleges are not funded enough and don’t have much authority compared to other institutions. Looking back at literature where women are constantly written about by men, finding the truth is impossible. It is almost like women have had an unfair and later start to this race to having a voice in society than men. Until now, many communities around the world such as in developing countries, power and freedom are contained to men. To dismantle patriarchy today, to have the voices back to the unheard, what we need is not for men to help women off their feets, for the superior to rule over the oppressed, but acknowledge the fact that everyone needs to have the access to be financially independent to truly think for themselves. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, it suggests that women need men and that women can’t think for themselves. After learning and researching about the tangibility of opportunities and knowledge, the need for equity for the impoverished and marginalized communities is more urgent. Everyone needs to have the opportunity to think up in the open sky without their realities being distorted by the need for money and power.
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Medium: Acrylic on canvas
1. Roses for You
2. The shadowed
4. The gardener