Thanks to Spring Break and the breath of air that is post-college-decision-letters-second-semester senior year, I finally got around to play with watercolors again. This time, it’s an illustration for Chapter XXVIII. of my ongoing story, The Emperor and Her Assassin.
It was yesterday, the Saturday before the 2017 Oscars when I found my life bridged together in the Fullerton Museum Center.
Hours before the merge I was competing in a journalism competition alongside my family of school newspaper staff. Finishing laying out my page (for that is the category of my competition) with an hour to spare and no space in my bladder to spare, I chose my selfish needs over my usual prioritization of the school newspaper as its Editor-in-Chief, turning in my entry early while my school’s main rival team chuckled behind me.
The rest of the day was the majority of our competing staff wandering around Fullerton awaiting the awards ceremony too many hours away. As per tradition, our advisor took us to a dainty burger place, while the large group took over a thrift shop, invaded a cafe daintier than the burger joint, then headed for the museum expecting a music exhibition.
“I wanted to see the guitars,” Our advisor said, a curt smile brimming with excitement before he took to a soliloquy about awesome guitars.
Little did I know that after I paid the $4 and stored my bag in the wooden shelves against the wall to the doors that swung open to me I would find in the place of guitars paintings…no, lithographs of most intricate colors and shapes, or women with wild hairs and their artist’s mind wilder.
“Mucha,” Someone said, while I wanted to know why these lines seem so familiar, so right in my memories. “Mucha,” I repeated.
I stared at each of those splendid flower, each ornate detail, patterns. It can’t be a mere gallery of deja vu. The curve of those porcelain hands hooked…reminiscence.
I couldn’t quite place it until hours later, after I settled in my mother’s car following the excitement of the awards ceremony with yours truly earning a 1st place to spite the chuckling team while my team placed 2nd overall. I walked her through our tour, showing her (the feature photo) my favorite Mucha piece in the exhibition.
“Mucha!” She said in Chinese before I started talking. “Do you remember?”
The moment those translated characters rolled of her tongue my thoughts dashed back home, my root country, my old house, the shelf by the guest bedroom that is part makeup table and part-time writing desk when I return. WIthin the drawers were notebooks we’ve gathered over time, lined pages untouched out of admiration.
I recalled sifting through them, armed with a new self-worth to dare to pick out these notebooks and bring them over to the States. One of such I’ve exhausted.
But more importantly, two of such are these, relics from an exhibition around 13 years ago.
I don’t remember much beyond flashes of paintings buried in the sea of people rushed here only because visiting exhibitions were rare. My mother bought the two little notebooks since she thought them worthy mementos, and I held them in my hands now.
What are the odds that an exhibition that is one of my earlier memory of art and opened my perception to the multiplicity of colors should meet me on a grey afternoon of my journalism competition? Had the moment crossed the ocean and time to remind me of how far I’ve gone?
From a four years old pulling my mother places to one nearing eighteen leading a crowd of her peers to the same artist, looking at the same wild hair and porcelain hands, I said to myself, “Mucha.”
This is my crude imitation of Mucha’s style…using pens and color pencils (obviously the wrong medium) that also doubles as a character design for Lyra from my ongoing story, The Emperor and Her Assassin.