I apply a focus in sculpture arts and background in metal fabrication to an examination of installation and social practice art and the question of whether identity can be site-specific. From my perspective as a Chinese adoptee, I integrate visual art, art history, sociology, design, and social conversations in America, to discuss themes of belonging and the complications of navigating intersectional identities.
Growing up, I realised that many people only saw me as Chinese and adapted to fit those stereotypes to fulfill their expectations. As I’ve grown older, that connection has evolved to be more personal, but no less complicated. In addition to dealing with imposter syndrome, many people believe that being raised in a white family excludes BIPOC adoptees from having any other cultural identity, and I was left defending a label I wasn’t even sure I had the right to.
In an effort to find an identity I could inhabit comfortably, I began accumulating personal and outside perspectives in order to visualise how an individual can be a part of a culture by definition, but feel significantly separated from it. In my sculptures, I look at the experiences and interactions in my life that make me question different aspects of my identity: the connection to China, one I feel inherently connected to because of the ways in which physical appearance affects the way I'm perceived, and my immersion in Southern culture in America. I combine these life experiences with a series of interviews I did with other Asian adoptees from the US and Europe. Adoptee stories and emotions, especially those in multiracial families, are too often told and interpreted by those who are not adopted, and in dispelling those false narratives, I want to break down assumptions and open up room for conversations that are lead by the people they are about.
Zoë Watts is an artist from Yulin, Shaanxi. They teach art and spend their free time bouldering, making music, and reading graphic novels. Work in progress encompasses photography, calligraphy and brush painting, and ceramics. They currently live in Austin, TX.