Jessica Tan

Integrated Cultural Self Portrait in Tile

Class of: 2022

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Sculpture

Faculty: Robert Hickman

Prompt: For the Space and Materiality integrated cultural self-portrait in tile project, we were asked to create a tile (including a door, a vault, a window, a pocket, and a shelf) that not only represented ourselves, but could also be integrated with our peers’ tiles.

For my Integrated Cultural Self Portrait in Tile, my concept was based around my childhood; specifically, growing up, my family and I often travelled and moved, which, in turn, shaped my perspective towards culture and society. Thus, within each component of this piece, I strove to express the influence of each of my experiences. Though my learning portfolio post further chronicles my thought process, I have highlighted a few concepts here: Beginning with the window, I first measured and chiselled out a mortise to place acrylic between. Aligning with my theme, despite my family’s penchant for travelling and moving, as a child, my parents would consistently tell my sister and I stories every night before bed; emphasising this nightly ritual of ours, I laser-engraved an image of the cricket from Mulan (a good luck symbol), as well as the pumpkin carriage from Cinderella (a transformation symbol) onto the panels of my window. Regarding the shelf, I immediately understood that the item placed upon it would also have to bear significance; repurposing a deck of cards, I painted a unifying circle across each card, listing out a different city that I’d travelled to. Though each card appears to be disjointed from the next, when laid out, the cards symbolise the interlinking of my experiences, and the shaping of my cultural identity/worldview. With the design and concept of the pocket, I wanted to address my struggle with identity and nationality. In holding Australian, American, and Hong Kong passports, when travelling, there is a constant struggle of what to declare myself as. Overall, this project was extremely rewarding, in the sense that I could not only come to terms with my own culture, background, and identity, but also, allowed me to convey the message in a style that truly represents me.