Hai-ou Hou

Hai-ou Hou

Painter – China

I was born in Beijing in the year of the Rooster. Rooster people are said to flamboyant, energetic, and passionate. But where I grew up, in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, flamboyance was dangerous, energy was directed by one’s work unit, and passion was something reserved for political movements and rallies. My passion was for art; my energy was for making art; my flamboyance was in wearing art as fashion of my own design, in an era of pigtails, green uniforms and blue Mao suits. In fact, I recall wearing a stylized American flag, a dress of stars and stripes, when I met my American “husband yet to be.”

My personality and character were in direct contradiction to the society and events surrounding me, and I brought trouble upon myself. Yet, immigrating to the U.S. was still harder, scaling the language barrier, learning to understand to things happening around me. I have often felt as alienated here as I was aloof in China. But now its been fourteen years in the United States, and I didn’t realize the depth of feeling I had for this country and its people until September 11th… I was surprised by how shaken and moved I was. As passionately as I pursue my career as an artist, I find myself becomin a passionate American, and I see nothing wrong with that.

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