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  Margaret Kasahara- Role Models Artist Statement  

As a child growing up in Boulder, Colorado in the 1970’s, I was profoundly aware of the “otherness” of my appearance and how the attitudes of those around me contributed to my sense of self—attitudes that were often based on assumptions. One person’s “exotic” was my “everyday”, and I was left with the feeling of not quite being allowed to belong. There were very few Asians in the community and I was often the only Asian in my classes.  And in the broader cultural landscape, there weren’t many Asian American women role models. Depictions of Asians in film and television were mostly two-dimensional if and when they existed at all.

I started to use cultural symbols metaphorically in my artwork in 2002 when I was invited to participate in a “Color” show. It was at that time I realized I wanted to address my own “color” and began a series of drawings and paintings based on some of the stereotypes and misunderstandings that  I encountered as a child—and occasionally experience to this day. And although I don’t consider my work  to be of a political nature nor do I have an agenda, how I look does affect my sense of identity. Asian Americans still encounter misconceptions based solely on their appearance—a perception  that I continue to explore in my  artwork. It is a personal approach.

“What a stereotype is at base, is something that is deeply dehumanizing. One minute you are walking down the street, with full awareness of how you are a human being with thoughts and feelings and dreams and a family and a life. The next minute all someone has to say is something like “Asian women are well known throughout the world for their exotic beauty and sensitive nature”….and suddenly you stop existing as a human. You only exist as a part of someone else’s two-dimensional vision of you;  a vision that really has nothing to do with who you are, or how you are human”              –Thea Lim


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