Shape of Belonging
Shape of Belonging was an installation of woven vines and soundscape for the event Sounding the Planet at Boston Nature Center. This event invited 4 artists to activate spaces of the Boston Nature Center with sound, music, poetry, and artwork around the theme of environmental justice.
In the winter of 2022 I began weaving with Bittersweet Vines. Bittersweet vines were introduced to me in the Boston Nature Center as an invasive species. I found out that they are called Oriental, Asian, or Chinese Bittersweet and they came to this country as an immigrant two hundred years ago for ornamental purposes.
They are beautiful and hard to get rid of. Poisonous and resilient. Dangerous to native plant life, competing for natural resources, and thriving. The description of Asian Bittersweet paralleled stereotypes or projected fears of immigrant populations in the United States. I considered them to be a strong metaphor for the experience of immigration in the US.
What does it mean for us as immigrants ourselves or the descendants of immigrants to belong to this stolen land? What does it mean to belong when you are considered foreign, dangerous, or othered?
The footage in the below video was from an installation at Boston Nature Center as part of the event Sounding the Planet (April 2022).
Photo Credit: Nohemi Rodriguez and Rene Dongo. Video filmed by Rene Dongo and edited by Crystal Bi.