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Artist’s Statement

Daily Quote
from the TAO

My ancestor Richard Swan brought his family to this country in the late 1630’s from England. Growing up in New Jersey in the years preceding the Bicentennial, this fact was an important part of my culture and heritage. Much of my childhood was filled with touring historic homes, ships, and battlefields. I was very proud that my family participated in the founding and building of this nation. My culture is American, all things English have been lost over the centuries.

I came to California as an adult in 1987. It is a very different state than New Jersey. California looks to the future and sets national trends while New Jersey prides itself on important events of the past. Both states are culturally diverse, but New Jersey cannot begin to match the other’s spectrum.

I discovered that some of my new friends (who are only the second or third generation in the U.S.) have a second heritage that added mystery and interest to their personas. Not only do they feel a kinship to a foreign land, they have unique customs I only sometimes understand, a personal art, and special words and symbols.

In the past, new Americans wanted to melt, but in the present day, the desire is to remain distinct. One of the great characteristics of the United States today is that it allows people to explore different—and perhaps the best—aspects of one another’s cultures. In learning about the heritages of my friends, I became specifically interested in some of the ideas of the Chinese.

The Chinese believe in the yin and yang, an eternal dynamic interaction of opposite but complimentary forces that create life. In keeping with that idea, the combination of Eastern and Western forms and ideas, in which each civilization preserves its own character, can stimulate and enrich one another.

With this in mind, I bring to you the ancient legend of the twelve animals in the Chinese horoscope. It is my goal to explore and interpret these forms from my Western perspective in order to bring their reign to a larger audience.

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