Jennifer Zhang is a 2023 Roost Boost Award Winner
The first couple of years after I returned to the US, I remember being bullied. As an ABC (American Born Chinese), I’ve had Americans tell me to go back to China, and Chinese people tell me that I’m not Chinese enough. Living in the United States, I was taught how to keep up with fashion trends, learn new lingo, and make racist jokes at my own expense, but art was the only thing that I could be honest with. Drawing things that connected me to my culture was a silent rebellion to the neat little boxes that I was supposed to fit in. Art was the only way for me to express that no matter where I was born, I am Chinese. I haven’t been back to China since I was five, but my heart never left. My work is heavily influenced by my heritage, and I am no longer afraid to admit that I am inspired by the richness of my culture. To me, art is an honest expression of yourself, but it doesn’t have to be limited to pen and paper. In the past year, my art has evolved. Instead of only drawing people in traditional dresses and elaborate hairstyles, I wear it. Truthfully, I don't draw as much anymore, but I also don’t have to hide who I am inside the pages of a sketchbook. Now, when I do choose to make art, I’m not afraid to openly display who I am, and where I come from.