Amy Chen

不合适 (does not fit)

不合适 (does not fit)


Scroll painting: oil paint and india ink on rice paper, thread

Book: monoprints with oil paint Chine-collé, ink, thread on rice paper

Altar: candles, fabric, clay, marbles, styrofoam, bowls, ink, pen, chopsticks on table


Dimensions variable



I chose to create an altar to Asian American experiences because of our lack of representation in mainstream culture and media. The structure and format of this shrine combines Buddhist and Daoist shrine traditions with Catholic altar traditions, physically juxtaposing the East and the West. I wanted to elevate our collective identities into a higher space, such as the religious and the meditative. Religion, to me, is about demonstrating devotion, and I wanted to build a physical space to celebrate, mourn, and honor aspects of this identity, similar to Daoist ancestral shrines.

            Another component of this structure is the altar book, which references the familiar placement of the Bible on a Catholic altar. This book includes 5 prints made by me about being Asian-American with an Asian stab binding and a hand marbled India ink cover. The inclusion of the book and the inclusion of the bowls encourage an active viewer engagement instead of a passive cursory glance.


In this installation, I included a participatory component, which take the form of the two bowls of small objects. To view the objects, one is only permitted to do so if one is capable of picking them up with chopsticks. On the other side of the objects, there may be some imagery or text describing my own experience with holding these identities.


. What is on the other side is not as important as the exclusionary aspect of this component. By absurdly excluding people based on their skill with chopsticks, I highlight the emotions of discrimination on a small scale. Additionally, the use of chopsticks in this installation challenges Western cultural supremacy; with imperialism, other cultures were forced to adapt to Western standards for the most part, and their own cultural customs were branded as niche or strange. By forcing the viewer to adapt to chopsticks to participate in this component, I subvert that standard.