The Jade Branches - PhMuseum

The Jade Branches

Yichen Zhou

2020 - Ongoing

“The Jade Branches” is the meaning of my Grandmother’s name. She is 86 years old, but still spends two hours drawing every day in the park.

The project started with a pack of embroidery thread I found in my grandmother’s home. Her aunt bought it for her when she was 12 years old. It is so precious for her in the time of scarcity in China, her mother told her not to use it until she was good enough at embroidery one day. After keeping the pack of thread for 74 years, she still doesn’t consider herself good enough to use it.

In her old family albums, I recognize many traces of her creativity and aesthetics which were easily ignored and forgotten by the family members. By embroidering old family photos, I was tryin to highlight the childhood clothes and toys designed and handmade by my grandmother, at the same time, reveal the true identity covered by the stereotypes of female roles in domestic life.

The project is a conversation between two generations of women. I am a 34 years old single woman, and I’m still wondering if the society today can embrace energetic and creative women, no matter their chronological age. Can we reinvigorate our notion of what grandmothers, mothers, and single women should be.

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  • Embroidery with luminous thread on photograph

  • Embroidery with luminous thread

  • A graduation picture of my grandmother. She was the only girl in her class when girls were not allowed to be educated in China. A note of grandmother stereotype in children's literature.


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