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Meet Joy Chen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joy Chen.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Joy. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I remember holding my camera in my hand for the first time. I immediately posted it on social media with the tag “feeling happy,” because at that moment, I was a mess of indescribable emotions that ranged from ecstatic to grateful. Photography fell into my lap in the most unexpected way. I was planning on simply taking the intro photography class at my school to complete my visual arts credit, but I found real love and passion for this art form. I have to thank my photography teacher, Mr. V, for guiding me and providing me with the confidence to be where I am today because, without him, photography would have just been another class I took in high school.

In the summer before my senior year, I began experimenting with utilizing self-portraits as a medium for activism. I created my first piece detailing the life of an Asian American girl, and the racial stereotypes that come with it. It was a commentary and critique on the necessity for Western culture to fetishize or box Asian women into an identity that does not fully encapsulate everything that we are. From then, I created various series on the Asian American identity, the impact of sexual assault, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

For me, being an artist is more than simply creating for the sake of it, as naive as it sounds, I want to be able to create a change in the world. At the bare minimum, I want to spark conversations about the implications of our actions within the communities that I am apart of. I have had the privilege of having a few of my pieces on the impact of trauma exhibited in galleries around the world. Seeing your work recognized by people is a humbling experience that only drives me to continue to create.

My story as an artist is nowhere close to being complete, but I will now be attending the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a Design | Media Arts major, where I hope to expand my knowledge and capacity for art through various mediums, but keeping with the same idea of political activism.

Has it been a smooth road?
Being an Asian American, deciding to pursue anything creative is a challenge. There are people that will look down upon you and discredit your successes because it is in the “arts” field. In turn, it has resulted in moments where I feel as though what I am doing is not good enough. I know my feelings are non-unique, as so many of my artist friends feel this way too, but it is one of the worst feelings to have when the one thing you love to do suddenly feels so foreign and alien to you. This feeling comes in waves, but I always have to remind myself that I am doing what I love for a reason and that I deserve to be where I am.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the By Joy Chen story. Tell us more about your art.
I have decided to keep a greater focus on creating activism pieces because it is what truly gives me creative happiness. I think that I am known for creating thought-provoking pieces that can create a shared experience among groups of people.

I think the moment that I felt most proud is whenever my parents like any piece that I have created. Everything that I do is to please them. Even though I have taken an unconventional path for my future, I hope that whatever I continue to create will make them happy and proud of me as their daughter.

What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory is in second grade, when my friend, Emma, and I became obsessed with this Chinese snack called Jelly Juice. We became amazed by this concept of jelly and pretended that we had a line of jelly that made us inseparable wherever we were. We put random things on this invisible line of jelly that ranged from snacks to homework. When we look back on it, we become nostalgic over our childhood innocence that in a way, became defined by our endless imagination and desire for the impossible.

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