Aram Han (MFA 2013)
Everyday, the pace of life gets quicker and quicker as it fills up with mindless errands and tasks. In reaction, I make slow work; I hand-stitch. It calls for tremendous diligence and discipline. Even though it is tedious and oftentimes seems futile, I dedicate myself to patiently build a line, image, and surface, stitch by stitch.
I achieve a slow rhythm of my hand piercing the cloth, pulling the needle up, piercing the cloth, and pulling the needle down. At the core of these movements, is a process that allows me to work instinctively, and to become lost in a musical tempo. The result is that I am able to work with an unfiltered and innate repetition, which expresses itself in each stitch. The spirit of the work is the labor of my hands.
The politics of invisible labor is a subtext for my works. As an immigrant, I am most interested in under-appreciated, invisible, and Sisyphean immigrant labor practices. In solidarity, I use my art practice to symbolically mimic my mother’s labor as a seamstress and keep my hands endlessly busy with needle and thread. Additionally, through the repetitive use of specific materials such as rice, denim scraps, salt, and sweat, I pull upon their rich social histories and meanings, and utilize them to create a personal mythology of materials. For example, my use of rice calls upon the parallels of immigrant mothers and the mythological Rice Mother; she sacrifices herself and the first rice plants grow from her body. I stitch and pierce thousands of individual grains of rice, and in the process, imbue this material with my own mythology of the immigrant woman who performs manual labor to feed the family.