Kelly Zhao

Unraveling Silence

Class of: 2027

Major: Integrated Design BFA

Medium: Stop Motion Animation (Mixed Media)

Faculty: Bryan Melillo

Prompt: Bridge 4 - Research Project Description: Students will research and investigate historical or contemporary events, processes and/or systems that create or reinforce oppression (including dumbing down populations, racism (and the inherent accompanying stereotypes), unfair punishment, prohibition of freedom of speech/press, controlling economics in neighborhoods specifically to keep people poor, etc.).* These structures or systems indoctrinate and normalize perception and stereotypes in a way that enables what is referred to as “othering”. You begin this research in Seminar. In Studio you develop your research further through art + design research methods. The final outcome is the development of a project that critiques and transforms your chosen and researched oppression by unveiling, educating and ultimately empowering self, others, and possibly the greater community we are enmeshed in.

I will explore the social justice issue of mothers in the Asian cultural background, specifically focusing on China. It is important to critique this social justice issue because the majority of women in China are imprisoned by social status and cultural regimes. People need to understand this particular stereotype better because women in China deserve the freedom to shape their identities and have domestic power dynamics as equals to men. The metallic material represents an impenetrable knowledge barrier and the surveillance panopticon that traps people’s moral development in China. I use soft aluminum sheets and carve joyful figures onto the surface of the house, representing the pretentious and superficial fulfillment of the two families. One is the mother’s original family, and the other is her family of procreation. She was not valued in both of them. The mechanical arm represents the mother in the most stereotypical way. This choice is driven by the common association of women and machines in terms of ocupations related to organizational and data management tasks. The repetitive sewing motion also highlights common ideas about feminine traits. I first laid out the scenes I wanted to include and found background music to match the scenes. I followed the music for a detailed timeline of each scene. I chose Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence; this song inspired me for some additional scenes, like having the machine hand mimic the fluid motions of violinists. The ending of the film was inspired by this song as well. I aim to close off the narrative by going back in time and releasing the hands of women from the red strings to convey my hope for women’s liberation and rightful freedom in China.