A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Achjadi, Diyan

Artist Website

"Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century images of Victorian woman often depict an exaggerated femininity, illustrating women as sweet, wide-eyed, and docile beings. I work with these images, manipulating and embellishing them with embroidery to build up layers of meanings. Growing up with a Canadian mother and an Indonesian father often meant having contradictory expectations of what a woman should be and how she should act. This is manifested most clearly in behavioral codes and rules of etiquette, which become a glossy surface of acceptable actions that may hide layers of conflicting desires.

Embroidery is a means of approaching that subject, both through the kind of labor it is and has been historically, as well as through its essentially non-utilitarian nature. It is purely decorative, and was often the test of a girl's learning and refinement. It is a silent labor (unlike quilting which was more often done in a communal setting) and functions to keep women still without being idle. It is a means of creating lush and beautiful surfaces, which may contain and hide unpleasant images."

Diyan Achjadi, Artist Statement, 1995

Gallery of Selected Works