My identity as an adopted Asian American artist has greatly impacted my artistic inspirations and worldview when creating art. Existing in a culture full of stereotypes and prejudice challenged me to ignore preconceptions of what it looks like to be Asian American and encouraged me to shape my identity. My current body of work contrasts the longevity of ceramics and the ephemerality of paper as a medium. While the history of ceramic vessels can be traced back as early as 28,000 BCE, paper artifacts were not preserved as well, therefore, few notable paper works exist today. Each of the vessel forms produced are composed of thousands of individual origami pieces created through a technique called Golden Venture folding. I find myself drawn to repetition and utilize this art form to discuss concepts of comfort and community. The method of Golden Venture folding was popularized in 1993 when a ship called the Golden Venture ran aground in New York. Many of the migrants onboard were from China’s Fujian Province, and due to strict immigration policies, they were imprisoned. During imprisonment, many folded and assembled various paper sculptures which were sold or donated to the community. The rich history behind Golden Venture folding contains aspects of craft and community evident in my own work. Each piece I make displays my interest in intricate and clean design, but also focuses on exploring my own identity and place within my community.
Lela Arruza is an Asian American artist born in Jiangxi, China. She was adopted and raised in Apex, North Carolina, until attending Appalachian State University for undergraduate studies. Currently she is pursuing a B.F.A. in studio art with a concentration in ceramics as well as a minor in general business. Her background as an adopted Asian American artist encouraged her to explore identity and culture through art and craft. This focus on craft is expressed through a variety of mediums including clay, paper, and metal. Arruza has been awarded numerous prestigious scholarships and awards, and their work has been widely exhibited on a regional level. She has presented workshops to various groups and has a passion for volunteering within the community.
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