Machinery Used: Band Saw, Sander and BEAM Laser Cutter    /     Materials Used: Poplar Wood and Polyurethane Finish    /
Programs Used: Adobe Illustrator     /      Date of Completion: Fall 2017

The purpose of this project was to create an artpiece based on a monologue I had written on one of the characters in a story in the book, Charlie Chan is Dead 2. The story is based on Baby, and his thoughts on life after his traumatic experiences growing up.
The monologue I had written:

Life’s Spine
Based on Baby by Philip Huang

Why does everyone leave me? Is life punishing me for being who I am? Since I was born, and yes, I was not meant to be born, I felt like there wasn’t a day that I haven’t suffered. Mama left her home to this foreign place called America to live with the one that impregnated her. She left this world, and left me, before I knew her well enough to know if she was happy or not. Daddy, the one that committed the deadly sins that have haunted me for the rest of my life, fled from the crime scene, and me. The day Mama died, I died as well. I lost all hope in humanity, love, passion and trust.

Sometimes I wonder, if Mama was not Korean, and Daddy not a negro, how would my life be? If Daddy had not killed Mama, how would my childhood be? If I grew up in a normal American family, where would I be now? My mind is full of ‘what ifs’, but they are just ‘what ifs’, that is all there is to it.

At the tender age of sixteen, I finally escaped the wrath of authority, the orphanage that gave me clean clothes to wear and tried to make me into a person that I wasn’t. I treaded out into the scary world to find myself, but on the contrary, I further lost myself, bit by bit, truck by truck.

But it was this tragic childhood that I had to overcome in order to meet Samuel. It was fate, we were destined to meet. He was like me, lost in the big, scary world without a place to belong to. We ended up staying in San Francisco, a little apartment on Mission Street, and that became our home. Our love was fueled by loneliness, sex, trust and dependence. Without Samuel, I don’t think I would have survived my teenage years. I would not have found a place where I could call home.

But Samuel too, has now left me. Once again, I am empty. Samuel had changed me; he had grown onto me.  I grew up fending and fighting for myself, never once depending on others. But Samuel’s appearance in my life changed me, and now I cannot live without him. I had seen it coming, his steps heavier and heavier by the days, his skin slowly turning grayer and grayer over the months. I had tried to ignore the gut feeling I had deep down in my stomach of what I knew was going to happen. I did not want to imagine Samuel leaving me, like how Mama left me, like how Daddy left me.

I remember dreaming about my childhood, and waking up in sweat and seeing Samuel’s comforting long, curvy spine. But that is all in the past, he’s gone now. I wish I could feel his warmth, touch his body, hug him tightly. I sometimes wonder whether my love for Samuel was fueled by my tragic childhood past, or my dire need for attention and love. But I have to bury these selfish thoughts within me, I cannot let them out, only once in a while when the drug kicks in and I cannot control my thoughts.


This piece of artwork is a representation of the story in the form of Samuel’s spine, the reason to why is because there was one paragraph in the story that really stuck out to me. On page 159,

Baby tried to please his mother by looking where she pointed, to show her he understood. After a while, he realized it wasn’t the railroad at all he was looking at, but the long ragged range of Samuel’s spine.

This paragraph really shows Baby’s need and unconscious thoughts on love and family, and how he tries to look for traits of family and love through Samuel.

This little wooden sculpture in the form of Samuel’s spine. Since I am a furniture major, I love making things using wood as each piece of wood is unique and has a beautiful pattern, thus I chose to create an art piece using the skills and passion I have. I chose poplar wood in particular because it is cheap, but once you take care of it and sand it properly, the pattern really stands out. I chose this section of the wood in particular because of the dark mark at the top, the dark mark suits the theme of the story really well. Baby is very hindered by his tragic past, and that’s why I engraved Daddy and Mama near this mark to represent this. And later on, the pattern becomes clearer and clearer, and that’s why I engraved Samuel’s name there.

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