Reworked Artist Statement:


Ying Bonny Cai, “the perplexed but wonderful feeling of distantly tender memories” (title in the works), 2017-2018, various fabrics, various dimensions


A funny thing happened when doing this interview which was I thought of the word I wanted to describe in Chinese but couldn’t think of the English translation, and Yufei pointedly suggested the word “tenderness”. English being my stronger language, it was the first time the language gap occurred in reverse. I chucked to myself afterwards, because ironically this mishap serves as a suitable anecdote for my collection: the feeling when a word is at the tip of your tongue but you just can’t remember what it is.


 My pieces are motivated by the abstract but vibrant feeling of distantly tender memories. For me this feeling is triggered through the concept of post-memory with my mother. The emotion is a bit unsettling and incongruous, but also warm and passionate. Imagine scenes of a child rummaging through their parents’ closets, to a teenager reluctant to adopt cultural norms, to a young adult flopping onto her mother’s bed and inhaling a deep breath of her scent.


I believe this feeling to be significant specifically in regards to second generation Asian Americans, as many have recently begun to reclaim their cultural identity. We realize many of the moments we took for granted as children now come back in the form of vibrant, yearning nostalgia. Furthermore, I think that the story of our mothers’ generation is less represented in media, which is why I would like to make it come into fruition in the form of textile apparel art.

Ying Cai