A Beautiful Lens on Identity...please meet Margaret Lim, a recent graduate of OCAD's jewelry design program.
Born and raised in Toronto, Margaret's parents, Chinese in origin, immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in the 1970s and raised her following the culture and traditions of their home country. Yet Margaret grew up not knowing the Philippines or her relatives there. She felt there was a large piece of herself that was completely unfamiliar. Thus Margaret's recent works are an exploration of who she is and where she belongs, through an examination of her family history.
The casings that hold the jewelry were hand carved in metal sheets to reflect traditional window lattice patterns from China. The rings were cast in silver, based on Margaret's own wax models. And the images in Margaret's jewelry are those of her parents, grandparents and her dad's youngest brother.
I asked Margaret how her parents felt about having their photos woven into her art. She explained they are shy, modest people. Her mother responded to one piece with, 'I don't want people to think that I'm trying to promote myself.'
Margaret's journey of self-discovery stemmed from curiosity about her relatives and family heritage. She admired her parents' principles and the way they raised her, and wanted to understand their influences. She had heard little about the three grandparents that she had never met, since her parents rarely spoke of their difficult pasts. Both of them grew up as the youngest of nine children in poor families who were part of a small Chinese population situated in the Philippines. They immigrated to Canada without any family, enduring the difficulty of starting in a new country for the promise of a better life for their children.
Margaret did this project for herself, as her OCAD thesis work. She was initially puzzled to find that other people were interested in owning art pieces that, to her, are so personal and nostalgic in nature. To an onlooker like myself it's obvious that the beauty, elegance and detail of her art is compelling.
Margaret's work won the OCAD medal for her program. She tells me her parents are not outwardly sentimental people, but it's clear that they're proud of her and of how much they mean to her. Her project has brought them much joy. Their hardships in moving to Canada were all to invest in the future of their children. Seeing their kids successful and happy is the biggest reward her parents could have asked for.