Ria Unson

Region: Midwest

Website: https://riaunson.com

City / State: St. Louis, MO

 I take books from Western classic literature and American textbooks and use them as a framework for portraits inspired by family photographs. The resulting palimpsests become new narratives that invite viewers to reexamine the stories they might already know well—now through a different lens.

I am interested in memory. How we perceive and recover the past; how we translate our past into the present; how our present stories create our future. Language is a conveyor for memory, shaping what is remembered and brought forward. With American English established as the de facto national language in the Philippines, what was effectively erased? What futures were eradicated?

This is how language was deployed in the Philippines during the fifty-year American occupation. I am a product of that system.

My conflation of personal memories with the stories we are told is one way I grapple with my postcolonial experience. In these works, I envision a simultaneity of place and time. My art is an attempt to cultivate meaning out of the fracture and invisible violence of cultural assimilation.