This is the doormat for an imagined home of a person who identifies as East Asian, a person who hears “go back to your country” or “speak English” every so often, a person who has to remind him/herself that his/her appearances are just as American as anyone else. This doormat that belongs in front of a home is instead stranded in the waters, unable to rest on solid land—the American land that was built with the hands of immigrants, but where Asian immigrants still struggle to be seen as part of. Their faces and language are seen as Other to America, thought of as separate from the “real” American culture. But American culture is the culture of immigrants. An American who doesn’t know where China is knows where the Chinese restaurant is in town. Yet Chinese food, which has thrived in this land for more than a century, is still seen as an exotic treat despite its presence in the memories of generations of Americans.

This “Asian” doormat stranded in the water signifies that many Americans are still reconciling with the fact that Asians can be American.
The borders seen from a distance resembles floral borders typical of doormats in America. On closer look, it reveals to contain the orange, peach, soybean, and tea leaves—four crops originated in Asia but inseparable from American life. These familiar foods, when placed near the Asian characters, start questioning the relationship between American culture and Asian culture.
Utilizing characters from both of our teammates’ languages (Mandarin and Korean), the mat reads 工’爪 ㅐㅇ川ㅌ. At first glance, it appears as an Asian foreign language, starkly out of place in Fort Point Channel, yet slowly reveals itself to be the English phrase “I’m home.” The first reaction of seeing this mat as foreign echoes the reaction of seeing any Asian element outside of China- towns in the United States—an odd sense of out-of-placeness and wonder, but never realizing that these elements have been a fundamental part of American culture. The American border with the phrase “I’m home” is thus simultaneously an enduring self-assurance and a reminder.
Collaboration with Daniel Shieh.
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