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            The Orchids
            Turned Grey

We are each other’s bridges to the past
so you can be here again with us

I gaze at your empty bed
while the white orchid blooms outside


All my life, I saw my grandmother worshipping Mother Mary day and night. The day I found out that my grandmother's real name is not Elisabeth, but Souw Hong Nio, it was already too late to ask questions. For three decades after former Indonesian strongman Suharto’s coup, it was not a conversation that we had around the dining table. 

From 1965 to 1998, Indonesians with Chinese ancestry were banned from expressing their culture, tradition, and language in public. They were labeled stateless. I realized part of us died with my grandmother’s death, and I fear losing a sense of who we once were.  

I collaborated with my family to rewrite a narrative of remembering my grandmother and to revisit the tradition of passing stories through generations.
I began this work to honor her while setting out to discover what it meant to be a Chinese-Indonesian in the present day. Then, The Orchids Turned Grey attempts to navigate loss while collecting memories kept silent for generations.

Artist Book that weaves personal stories between three generations of women in my family.


© 2023 Fransisca Angela