This post is Part 1 of a Q&A series with artist Lee Mingwei. Learn more about our ongoing exhibition, The Travelers, here.
(Image courtesy of Lee Studio)
Tell us about your story of leaving home.
I left Taiwan right before my 13th birthday, heading toward another island called the Dominican Republic. My parents wanted me to leave the country because they didn’t like the idea of me doing military service under a government that was against their political beliefs. When I arrived in Santo Domingo, I was so taken by the natural surroundings: endless fields of coconut trees, mango groves and sparkling white beaches. Also, everyone was speaking Spanish, which was a completely foreign language to me. All these fresh new things made the first departure from my home much less scary and was, actually, quite exhilarating, come to think of it.
What did you carry in your suitcase when you first left home for a long term stay in a country?
I don’t remember any particular item except that my mum placed a cook book by Fu PeiMei, the Taiwanese version of Julia Child. Oh, yes, other items were several books by San Mao, which were about her life living in the Canary Islands and the Sahara Desert with her husband Jose.