Arts + Literature Laboratory presents Canton Gulf, an exhibition by Madison artist Jamie Ho, who was selected to participate in the inaugural year of the Dane County Emerging Artists Program. The exhibition opens Saturday, June 3, 2017 with a reception from 7 to 9pm, and will be on view through June 30, 2017. Canton Gulf is a new series of photographs that documents the artist's childhood home where her immigrant parents still live the American dream while holding onto Chinese traditions.
I spent my teenage years plotting my escape from my home town. Now that I have spent almost a decade living elsewhere, I find myself revisiting my childhood home more and more. Southwest Florida is as advertised, sunny and humid, and every cold winter in Wisconsin has renewed my enthusiasm for trips down to the Gulf Coast. Yet, I never stay long. Florida is where my parents’ home resides. Not mine.
My parents immigrated from China to the United States to achieve that iconic American dream: owning a home. They live in a small community filled with cookie cutter houses and a housing association that requires approval of every alteration and every fresh coat of paint. Their house is part of the suburban mold, but is still able to subtly proclaim its difference through tiny details such as the way my father built his garden: a mass of greenery and tiered to fully utilize the space.
This is their home, carved out from the generic shell to form a space embedded with our rich family history and culture. As my parents grow older, I worry about the sustainability of what they leave behind. Will their home revert back to its original lifeless form under my care?
Canton Gulf is an ongoing photographic series that aims to preserve my parents’ legacy while questioning if home is defined by geography or by embedded traditions.
The Dane County Emerging Artists project is supported in part by Dane Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.