S2014 Commencement Speech by JuPong Lin


Goddard College MFAIA-WA Faculty Member JuPong Lin presents her Commencement Speech for graduates of Spring 2014. Introduced by Joyce Gustafson. Sunday 13 April, 2014. 

If I had to whittle my teaching philosophy down to a kernel, it would say, "my mission is to cultivate cooperative cultures of life-long learning that respects the wholeness and complexity of our differences, and dissolves, as much as we're able, the lines between human and non-human worlds." My work springs from a love of stories and an unabashedly feminist sensibility. While I make video, perform and collect stories, knit and construct environments, I improvise new dynamic relationships between meaning and material stuff, personal and political, spiritual and corporeal, fantastical and mundane, individual and community. Story offers a way to reveal and to embrace contradiction, the contradictions of a culture that lauds traditional family values yet restricts how we love one another; a culture that raises motherhood on a pedestal yet tolerates daily violence against women; a culture that simultaneously perpetuates a fascination with the "other" while obsessed with securing its borders. 

One recurring theme in my work is the story of navigating through culture and identity. As an immigrant who exchanged Taiwanese citizenship for U.S. citizenship over 25 years ago, even my own extended family view me as an outsider. Raised in the United States, I can no longer fluently communicate with our Taiwanese-speaking relatives. Yet my immediate family sustains a kind of weak link with those across the ocean. The word, "family", conjures up contradictory feelings of love, longing and grief. I strive to make cultural barriers more fluid and make art in sympathy with all border-crossers. Just prior to my most recent move, I was told of an ordinance still in the books that stated, "No persons of Chinese descent m ay purchase this house." The words provoked a deep interest in the question of how a neighborhood identity comes into being. Who has the power and privilege to make a neighborhood what it is? One of my current projects uses oral history and community engagement to forge a collective answer to this question. 

I have also just completed my first year in the Environmental Studies PhD program at Antioch University New England. My studies are circling around "eco-deco performance practices" (yes, I made that up). That's short for performative research that integrates ecocritical methods with decolonizing discourses. I'm making my way "home" to Taiwan to learn the stories of the place where I was born, where the great swirl of big questions about place, family, love and violence all began for me. I earned my MFA in Intermedia at the University of Iowa. From 1996-2003 I enjoyed a terrific stint on the faculty of the Evergreen State College, before joining the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts faculty at Goddard College. I am the feminist mother of two wonderful guys who keep me on my toes and teach me more than I ever thought I could understand about love. My work can be viewed on my website: https://jupong-lin.squarespace.com 

Educational Background: 
MFA in Intermedia, University of Iowa;
BA in Comparative Literature, Indiana. University