In Oak Chair Conversations, I am conducting a series of interviews with adoptees. The interview questions are directed to address belonging, placemaking, and identity in those who participate. The grounding physical form of this project is a handmade solid oak chair. Each of the interviewees are invited to sit in the chair as we hold our conversation.
My dad and I made the chair. It serves as a kind of metaphor for this enduring exchange that occurs between myself and my family. It's a reflection of invitation and acceptance. I asked my dad to help with the project and he replied with an immediate yes. My family and I have been corresponding in this way since the day they landed in China to take me home.
I think it's important to understand placemaking as both a physical and emotional concept. Just because you're born or currently situated in a certain place - economically, physically, etc it doesn't necessarily mean that you belong there. And vice versa, you can belong there by choice or even by invitation. For me as an adoptee, I belonged a two day plane ride away from where I was born, and I've belonged a thousand other places since. This chair and project overall represent our autonomy with place making - our ability to create belonging and to place ourselves and others. For some this means familial ties, for others it's an alternative concept of kinship. Because it's constantly in flux and looks different from person to person, there are aspects of fragility and temporariness. I think in a way this adds to the value of when we are able to make and recognize these connections.