Photo credit for 5 above photos: Beto Soto
借景 shakkei (Japanese) and jièjǐng (Chinese) both translate to “borrowed scenery,” an ancient Asian garden design technique where a designer takes a distant view, such as a faraway mountain, and incorporates, or “borrows,” it into the garden composition.
Although the distant mountain is outside of the garden and far in the background, the designer features it as a continuous part of the garden itself.
As a 4th generation Japanese American and 3rd generation Chinese American, the artist uses the same technique but borrows the Japanese Friendship Garden into her piece as she explores how to incorporate her heritage into her life. Views of the Garden are featured through woven screens created from the artist’s clothes dyed in onion skins, turmeric, avocado peels, purple cabbage, pomegranate, black beans, and kuromame beans.
With the clothes and food from her everyday life woven into traditional Asian pattern designs, the screens reflect the shaping of a new multicultural identity that naturally casts shadows, fades, and sways with its borrowed scenery.
Affected by its surrounding environment, the piece changes with the sun, wind, and rain in ways one cannot predict. Similarly, we are left wondering, how will our cultures transform and what will happen next?
This work was made possible through The Civil Liberties Fellowship, a program of The AjA Project and funded by the California State Libraries. The Fellowship is rooted in studying the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and its connections to current issues of politics, culture, and identity.