Artist MaiYap explores her identity as an Asian woman in the series Reflection on Awakening. Her experience living as a minority in Panama, and then later, in Florida, formed a fear of being different. Then, when racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans began to increase—particularly during the pandemic—she turned to painting to rediscover her identity. This resulted in a collection of abstract oil paintings featuring the steadfast lily pad.
This subject holds special meaning to MaiYap. “Lily pads represent all that I love about Chinese culture: beauty and perseverance,” MaiYap tells My Modern Met. “As you notice I decided to portray only lily pads but not the flowers. In choosing so, I wanted to bring awareness to the Chinese community’s struggles past and present. This flower can grow even in mud and adverse conditions, so the absence of it means that my own personal self-discovery is still in process, emerging slowly from inside me.”
MaiYap used a palette knife to add numerous layers and textures to the canvas. The lily pads are not just green, but also yellow, white, and red. Even their reflections in the water possess an array of colors. The inherent loveliness of these renderings highlights the grace of Chinese culture while also drawing attention to the importance of nature. “My work is about finding ways to bring awareness,” MaiYap adds. “Is a soft art activism. Soft, because I always prefer to lure with beauty as means to bring a message.”
Scroll down to see more paintings, and follow MaiYap on Instagram to keep up to date with her latest work.