The 21st century is a globalised society that merges different cultural identities. Quan Tan, a 3rd year Bachelor of Visual Arts student, created her final project “The Cinderella” to talk about the positive attributes of cultural diversity while reflecting on her own personal experiences from Malaysia and New Zealand.
Quan wanted to highlight the similarity of being human despite cultural differences. “I believe all humans are the same and should be accepted for who we are.”
Her project is based on the fairy tale Cinderella and the different variations that exist across cultures. Malay (Bawang Puteh Bawang Merah), European (Cendrillon), Chinese (Yeh Xian) and Disney (Cinderella) all have their own Cinderella story that share the same story essences. An orphan protagonist, stepmother, stepsisters, fairy godmother/spiritual guardian and a saviour/prince charming. Quan adapted the Disney version to reflect her own experience with cultural diversity.
Living in New Zealand as a Malaysian Chinese has made her question her identity which motivated her to show who she is through her art. “Many people assumed I am a Chinese or a Korean due to my physical appearances. Those assumptions trigger me to question myself. Am I Chinese? Am I a Malaysian? Why do these differences affect my judgement on identity when living in a new environment?”.
Humans by nature want to be acknowledged and accepted in society. In Malaysia and New Zealand people fight for equal rights and freedom as a symbol of acceptance.
Quan’s work “The Cinderella” highlights the positive attributes of cultural diversity. The character Cinderella portrays her Chinese heritage wearing traditional Malaysian clothing, while the background displays her everyday life living in Invercargill, New Zealand.
The integration of the story (representing being human) and her experiences with cultural diversity proves that humans are the same and that they want to belong without being criticised.
She used a mixed media collage with digital media (Digital Illustration, Photography and Photoshop) and traditional media (watercolour on paper) to create her pieces. “This allows me to highlight cultural elements, and also combine contemporary elements into my work.”
Quan Tan’s project was installed on the 25th of October 2019 at the SIT Invercargill Library and will be shown until mid-December.