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The Order in the Chaos

Tecnica: Needle pen, Digital Painting

My mother was a hard-working, critical, and controlling typical Asian-American mother; we were always quarreling because of our different thoughts. This situation led to arguments, and I even fell into depression.

However, I still constantly communicate and tilt my mother in my chaotic state. Eventually, she said, “I’m your mother and want you to be okay. But if your decision makes you happy, you can do it.” In this regard, our relationship and life’s order were restored, and this inspired me to create this project.

The visual elements of “mouth flowers” appear in both parts: “mouth” represents mother’s strict demands and our chaotic daily disputes; “Western Sakura”, which flower’s language is: kind education, which means that no matter how strict my mother is, she always wants to educate me to be an excellent person.

In the 2D needle pen illustration, there is the “panopticon” proposed by the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. This prison design makes it impossible for prisoners to determine whether they are under surveillance. So, a prisoner like me psychologically forces myself to maintain order. The “Thousand Hands” in the painting comes from the Buddhist Avalokitesvara, which represents kindness, just like my mother; although she seemed to have a thousand hands controlling me, she finally tried to save me from depression.

In China, there are two idioms, “Gold Cicadidae escapes its shell” and “Nirvana is born again”: the former refers to when the cicada sheds its old clothes, it will be replaced by a new body, which means breaking free and a new look; the latter means the phoenix is not afraid of suffering to experience the fire and to be reborn. Therefore, I use Cicada and Phoenix to describe myself in a chaotic relationship.

Besides, I draw myself curled up in this picture, with my back against a banyan tree. This tree’s roots are madly entangled in me, just like my mother needs to be attached to me. However, the banyan tree is the king of the tree, which can resolve all unfavorable effects.

Although my mother and I are still sometimes in chaos and tilt, there is a corresponding order that maintains the balance. I think this “order” is family affection and love.

Through this work, I hope to comfort people like me who suffer from family relationships to let them feel that what their family did is because of love. When you can’t stand it, try to communicate, they will eventually understand since the people who support you will always be your family.

Tongtong Zhang
Tongtong Zhang
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