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My Grandma's Quilts (2017)

The Khmer Rouge caused the deaths of many and resulted in the dislocation of hundreds of thousands of Khmer people. In this artwork I look back at the cause for migration in an effort to understand the significant event that drastically affected my family, forcing the loss of cultural knowledge and disruption of familial relationships.

Scrap pieces of fabric sewn together by my grandmother is the main catalyst for beginning this artwork. The disconnection I feel between myself and my grandmother’s generation – often felt by diaspora between forthcoming generations – is a gap that the artwork attempts to bridge.

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Khmer words taken from a retelling of my mother and grandmother’s experience of the Khmer Rouge are painted upon the fabric in black and gold. Little trinkets eliciting memories from my childhood are hung around the space with the fabric. Voices from this conversation spill around the space, with glimpses of Khmer and English being intertwined together. Movement around the space brings about clarity in who is speaking – my mother, grandmother, and myself. Here, language acts as a mechanism to understanding the experience as well as a barrier. The struggle to translate the words spoken by my family reveal the extent to which I am able to grasp an understanding of their experiences.