empress


Grace Chen, 17

Taiwanese-American

Virginia


As a young, Taiwanese-American woman, I've often struggled with my identity and acceptance of it. In my previous pieces, "LOST" and "REBORN", I've toyed with a manifestation—an alter ego—of myself in the form of a dragon, because I identify deeply with some of the features that dragons are often associated with, including those that oftentimes are deemed negative and/or masculine by society (being assertive, driven, protective, etc.).


Here, in my first ever self-portrait, the exploration of identity and realization, as well as acceptance, of self comes full circle: I am the dragon; the dragon is me. Together, we are one and the same.


Additionally, many emperors during the Han and Qing Dynasties claimed to be incarnations of dragon divinity. As such, the law of the land was that any commoner who owned anything depicting a dragon was executed. Only in 1911, when the last emperor was overthrown, were people free to identify themselves as descendants of dragons.


Maybe I am, maybe I am not. Who knows?



Acrylic on canvas panel

11" x 14"

October 2020