Rios: What elements of your identity do you transfer into your art?
Lydia: A lot of it. Much of my story growing up and currently living as an Asian American woman in the Midwest shows up in my work. Usually I try to address issues of Other: culture, social stigma, alienation, gender, sexuality, etc. It’s usually very personal and based on my own experience of these things.
I’ve had talks with fellow POC, especially friends who are also Asian American and/or mixed asian (Hapa) American, and it’s something that I’ve come to realize there is not one set mold. The Asian American community is extremely diverse, like America itself, but I’ve noticed my experience growing up in the midwest as a 2nd generation immigrant is quite different compared to other Asian Americans on the West or East coast (often demographic-wise and also generationally very different) – actually I think Asians in the Midwest end up holding even tighter to their roots because there was not as much community here (it’s changed since).
There was a lot of stereotyping and prejudice when I was growing up – worse for my parents when they first immigrated here from Taiwan in the 70’s – there’s stuff like in Eddie Huang’s “Fresh Off the Boat” that were pretty common place occurrences (and there still are) I would say even now.
In addition, there are certain pressures or expectations from my family’s traditional background to be a specific way, to achieve “success”, to be a good daughter, to have a certain kind of job, my role in building family as a wife, a mother, etc. (there’s much in line with the American Dream). At the same time I’m trying to challenge these expectations, I’m also struggling with what mainstream America assumes I should be as an Asian and a woman (concepts of beauty and success are a huge issue).
I’m always learning how I can reconcile these disjointed and weird perspectives and form my own sense of self – someone who is proud to be a woman, Asian, American – it doesn’t have to be so exclusive, and people get caught up in the labels. That’s kind of a long winded way of explaining that I pretty much use my art to work out those knots and explore how to be me.
Bio: Lydia is an artist and illustrator based in Chicago. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a B.S. in Chemistry, she then went on to study at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC where she received a B.M.A. in Animation. She loves to tell stories and create things that combine her love of old and new media. She also has late night sketch parties with her cat BaoBao.
Read her rad comic series HERE.