"In America−Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter” is a series that investigates Asian-American identity through self-portraiture. The work is focused on my search for an emotional home and a sense of belonging. It is about leaving one world behind and adapting to a new one. This work has renewed my deep appreciation to my home and helped me making connections to my remote home in China and my new home in the land of freedom.
I spent the first half of my life in Beijing China. My childhood memory was full of struggles and human sufferings, particularly during the famines in the 1950s and the Culture Revolution in the 1960s and ‘70s. Tradition and culture were being revolutionized (in Chinese, "revolution" literally means cutting off or being given no life); books and literature were burned, arts and valuables were confiscated, for they were all considered poison for the mind. After the end of the Culture Revolution, I completed my college education, and came to America for graduate school in 1985. I was shocked to find out how open and friendly people were. Friendships and understanding were easily built across major differences in upbringing, cultural barriers, history, and religious belief. We were seen to be fundamentally the same no matter how different we looked on the surface. This observation continuously fascinated me during my travel. When I took photography up seriously in 2006, my camera became a vehicle for me to communicate and to connect. The viewfinder encouraged me to look beyond eyesight. I discovered the chance to capture precious moments that reveal compassion, strength, humanity, and our common spirit. This common spirit has never ceased to inspire me. And it is this common spirit that will keep us together for a better world for all of us, instead of tearing us apart. Life has been a never-ending university for me. It is my art school and all the education beyond. I share with others what I have learned through photography about our common spirit. If I can inspire people the way I have been inspired, even in a small way, I will have achieved my goal in life, as a photographer and as a human being.