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Asia Mason


Series of 6 digital collages, 2019
24 x 36 inches

For the past two years, I have been documenting my grandmothers’ past, including her journey from Trinidad and Tobago to Canada. This series, 201972, returns to the home my grandmother grew up in, and the home her mother built, examining how time has eroded the walls, but not their presence. These images are a compilation of self-portraiture and family archives. They contain letters and postcards from Trinidad when my grandmother first came to Canada—letters from her mother wishing her safe passage, and postcards from sisters and cousins updating her on life back home—generations of history and love that, once placed in my work, are given a new context. By fragmenting both myself and this archive, I show how I am directly connected to those who have come before me.

Mementos are what we choose to hold onto from our past as part of our identity—a staple of any family with roots overseas. One of the homes of my foremothers in this series still had family pictures up around the now-abandoned house.  It has since been torn down, while another home has been completely consumed by nature.

I believe that the Canadian tendency to make blanket statements on ‘multiculturalism’ distracts us from the realities of how people are treated due to their race, religion or gender. For years, the Canadian Domestic Scheme provided job opportunities to Caribbean women who wanted to come to Canada, but also subjected many of those women to physical and psychological abuse from their employers. The handwritten texts in my work are included to stress the importance of being able to connect with your family, however far they may be. Through the evolution from written letters to calling cards to instant messages, I want to show that it is important to connect with people who see you as a whole person and not as a believable guise for multiculturalism. I resist by keeping memories alive and by refusing to forget.

Asia Mason.
I am a visual artist and archivist from Montreal currently studying Photography at Dawson College. My parents and I are Canadian, and my grandparents emigrated from different parts of the Caribbean. My work is often a fusion between collected archives and my own created images. I use my projects as a way to learn more about both personal and collective history, and specifically about my family before and after coming to Canada.The archives in my work act as evidence of the love and connection that existed in my family, and that is still present today. Artists such as Lorna Simpson, Deana Lawson, Latoya Ruby Fraizer, and Carrie Mae Weems have all deeply influenced my creative style and goals. Much of their work—like my own—is about domestic relationships and connections to home, and the people we share those spaces with. To me, their work is evidence of the personal being political; also, that what happens in our intimate spaces and relationships is connected to a larger social and political structure. Growing up, my grandmother always ensured my sisters and I visited our family in Trinidad, so we would always know where we came from. That has also been a reason why archives and history are scattered throughout my personal work. Being raised by my mother, grandmother, and two older sisters, I make female subjectivity a focus in my work, and hope I can inspire others to look at their lives and their history, and do the same.