Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mentioned in the Boston Globe today

I was mentioned in an article in the Boston Globe today. It featured one of my photos as well, though I just realized that my name is not credited in the caption... The article is about our last show in the Medford Square space at 13FOREST Gallery before moving to Arlington.

Here is the article!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blogging about blogging and other recent web activities

There must be a verb for pinching contacts of your contacts from networking websites like Facebook... I can speak frankly about this because I know Jeff D'Urso does not read my blog :-) Jeff and I have been stealing each other's contacts off both Facebook and LinkedIn. This is pretty obvious because when I add a new contact we both know, he will soon add him/her as his contact, and vice versa. If you log in as either me or Jeff, you'll find that we'll have about a page full of shared contacts. I've known Jeff since college, and he introduced me to my first job out of college (even though he left the company before I even started). After I moved back to the US from Japan, I worked for Jeff's startup company. I'm now back in touch with people I haven't spoken to in 15 years. Hurray for technology.

I want to spend a few moments meta-blogging. I must confess that I am not 100% comfortable blogging. Now that I know some people actually read my blog, I have to be more careful about editing. It's so different from writing in a diary. In blogging, you obviously want the public to read what you are saying, and so what you say will have to be more controlled. It is quite a bit more constraining than writing in a diary, in which you won't have to worry about proper grammar or looking like an idiot about what you're saying. A blog has to be somewhat of a essay. If you are simply reporting what you've done today, then that's just plain boring.

I know people who don't want to keep a blog for fear that it will reflect poorly on their professional lives. This is understandable, I suppose, especially if you plan on becoming a politician. Even though I'm an artist and can have the luxury to speak my mind more freely, I still have to be careful about what I say, especially any frustration I might have felt during my career photographing weddings (eh-hem, if there was any frustration, that is).

I'd like to blog more regularly in 2008. Hopefully, I can learn to conquer my ADD enough to sit and write extensively on a given topic.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Upcoming Exhibit

I'll be showing my work with Sand T and Sophie Glikson at TV3 in Medford from January 10 - February 10. This is going to be a very exciting show, as we are all very different artists.

I have never shown so many black and white pieces in one show, and I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow in Boston

I'm feeling very depressed about having to dig my car out. Just waiting for the caffeine to kick in my bloodstream before starting the task.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Daemon

Hmmm... It's interesting that my daemon animal is the same as Lord Asriel's in the Golden Compass... Not sure if that's good or bad. Ken's daemon is also a large cat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Free Food for Millionaires

Even though I've read quite a few new nonfiction books recently, it has been over a year since I last read a great novel. I am happy that my time was well spent on Free Food for Millionaires, the 560-page debut by Min Jin Lee.

I first heard about this book when Min Jin Lee was being interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. I was impressed by the poise and ease with which she answered difficult questions posed to her, particularly those by an angry Korean American young man insisting that there is no racism toward Asian Americans in the United States.

I was also amused by the title. Strangely enough, the first thing that came to my mind was the episode of the Sopranos in which Ben Kingsley made a cameo appearance. The episode shows how movie stars are offered many free things by the luxury hotel they stay in. It is true: in America, you get many more freebies when you are wealthy.

In a nutshell, Free Food for Millionaires is about a young Korean American woman who just graduated from Princeton in the early 90's and is searching for a way to support her lifestyle that revolves around designer fashion and accessories in New York City. This story is more similar to Candace Bushnell's Trading Up and William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair than to any Amy Tan books--thank God. The Asian American writers (all Chinese American women until Min Jin Lee) I've read tend to focus so much on emotions around identity that they feel hollow after a while. Min Jin Lee's novel is full of rich layers that address everyday issues that Korean immigrants and their children encounter -- money, status, Christianity, and family. Identity certainly plays an important role in the book, but it is done with little self-consciousness. Casey Han is searching for an identity, but she is searching for it through money, status, religion, and family, not her race. Yet, I could always sense that she is proud of her Korean heritage throughout the story. Min Jin Lee's talent in crafting this truly American novel with such integrity is remarkable.

One of my husband's biggest complaints about Chinese American women writers is that they often unfairly portray Chinese or Chinese American men as terrible people. Min Jin Lee does not do that here, but she is Korean and not Chinese. Every character in the novel has very human flaws, and she has been fair in her depictions of women and men, Korean or otherwise. Casey is not opposed to interracial marriage, but neither is she partial to courting only non-Korean men.

Another aspect of this story that really struck me is Casey's struggle with her faith. In the beginning of the story, Casey claims that she is agnostic, but everyday, she opens up the bible to copy down a passage that she either dislikes or does not understand. As she drifts through her life in a materialistic world, she finds ground in spirituality.

The most judgmental are the most afraid of being judged themselves. Forgiveness and grace are among my favorite themes in the story.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The ICA, No Name Restaurant, and the Boston Fish Pier

I became a member of the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) recently, and I decided to go back with my friend Bénédicte to see the current exhibit DESIGN LIFE NOW in the West Gallery (through January 6, 2008). This show has some of the best designs from 2003-2006 across many industries. This is my second visit to the show and I still haven't seen everything. The membership at the ICA is definitely worth it. I will go back again with Ken and my cousins this weekend, and possibly again sometime with my former assistant Stephen.

I discovered the No Name Restaurant recently in the process of photographing my client's wedding. What wonderful fish and chips! For those who don't know about the No Name Restaurant, it's located right on the Fish Pier, meaning that the fish is completely fresh, of course. I felt like having a beer today, and I ordered a Budweiser Select, just out of curiosity. A terrible mistake. It's a little more flavorful than club soda. Bénédicte enjoyed the meal with a Harpoon ale. She has a few more months in Boston before returning to France, and she said she would bring her husband Nicolas back to the restaurant.

Finally, a word about the fresh fish from the pier. About a year ago, I blogged about grocery shopping in Boston, and coincidentally, today I was contacted by a David Barkay in Montreal who actually read my blog entry (check out David Barkay's blog). I've been meaning to add to that entry regarding my recent find about the fish, and now I'm motivated to do so.

I have stopped buying fish from supermarkets in Boston. I am so spoiled by the fish at the fish pier that there is no reason to buy from the supermarkets. The seafood companies are mainly wholesalers, but they will sell retail if you ask for something they have. I just bought 4 lbs of bluefish from Bramante Seafood yesterday and roasted 2 lbs in the oven last night with ginger and spiced salt (a mixture of cayenne, paprika, and salt). My mouth is still watering at the thought of last night's dinner.

Now back to work...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Joyce Tenneson at the Griffin Museum of Photography

My friend Bénédicte and I went to see Joyce Tenneson speak at the Griffin Museum tonight. The show is up through August 12,

Joyce kicked off the talk with a couple of Powerpoint slideshows, the first of which was a selection of images from her new book, a retrospective of four decades' worth work.

As she got up to speak at the end of the slideshows, she welled up with tears over the images from her Wise Women series featuring women over 65. The late Jessica Tandy was one of them. Joyce has always photographed from the heart, and she got to know some of these women very well in preparation of her portraits of them. She loved them and wanted to be close friends with them. She explained that she got emotional over them because it was the first time she looked at the slideshow on a big screen with music like this.

She apologized, but of course, we more than forgive her. We just love her that much more for getting emotional. Well, I'm speaking for myself at least.

Wise Women happens to be my favorite body of work by Joyce Tenneson, and I was happy that she was so attached to it. It's her least stylized body of work because she really wanted the women's characters to speak for themselves, and so there weren't any special backgrounds that may distract the viewer from the subject. Pretty young starlets will please the vast majority of the public no matter how poorly you photograph them. Being able to distill the inner beauty from an older woman is something only a master artist like Joyce can do. It's likely that a young male will look at this body of work and say that he has no interest in viewing, but young, shallow boys are irrelevant here. Wise Women will only speak to other wise women, women seeking wisdom, and maybe a few worthy wise men.

The session was then opened to Q&A. I learned the process by which she used to mount her large flower images.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ken's new short story

My husband Ken won another writing contest recently. The story "Beneath the Language" is now published at

You can see another of Ken's published stories "Algorithms for Love" at Strange Horizons.

Monday, May 28, 2007

StoryLINES at artSPACE@16 in Malden

If you haven't been to's new show, go see it before it closes on June 9th. It features sculptures by Pamela Sheridan, paintings by Sam Tan, and photography by Brian Doan.

I stopped by this show for the first time two Thursdays ago and was immensely moved by Brian Doan's large format photographs of Vietnamese Americans in his series Dreamland, particularly one of a Vietnamese American young man in a U.S. Army uniform. This young man is now deployed in Iraq. Blurred in the background of this portrait is a movie poster of Apocalpyse Now.

I felt such strong emotions when I looked at this photograph because Asian Americans always have the need to prove to the rest of America that we are Americans, and the Vietnamese American soldier's portrait is great proof. And of course, the allusion to the Vietnam War just a few decades ago reminds us how once again America is "fighting for democracy" today, but it is just that much more poignant that this young Vietnamese American man, whose parents probably came to the U.S. as refugees from the Vietnam War, is now risking his life for the U.S. government for another war.

Upon browsing through his website and seeing more samples of his work, it struck me how Brian's subjects all display a sense of their own dignity. The rarity of any Asian Americans portrayed with dignity in photographs is astounding. Asian American women are often stereotyped as sex objects in commercial photographs, and Asian American men are either ignored, or portrayed as effeminates. And sadly, oftentimes Asian Americans themselves pertetuate and reinforce such stereotypes. Brian's work is very important to the whole Asian American community and in getting a voice out to the larger American society, not just Vietnamese Americans.

I returned to artSPACE@16 to meet Brian during the artist talk on May, 24th. Brian was an engineer who decided to become a full-time artist, to the dismay of his parents and others around him. Vietnamese immigrant parents, like Chinese immigrant parents, all wish for their kids to have a steady job that earns a lot of money.

Pam Sheridan was not an abstract artist until she was diagnosed with cancer (from which she is now recovered fortunately). Here, on the left, you can see details from one of her sculptures Paradox at artSPACE. The sculpture is about 5 feet in height and is made entirely of intricately woven barbed wires, colored threads and painted spherical shapes.

I had come across Sam Tan's paintings about a year ago in Arlington. His works are often characterized by two juxtaposing patterns and very bright, often complementary colors. In this current show (shown on right), his paintings from the Mindful Landscapes series employ cadmium orange and cobalt teal acrylic paints -- ultra intense, complementary colors in their pure forms. Sam wove them into webs of abstract shapes that remind the viewers of arteries and organs and their own mortality.

Sand T has once again put together another extraordinary show.

Saturday, April 28, 2007