Identity and Fortune is a solo exhibition which features four large (4’x8’) oil-on-wood portraits of Asian Americans and audio from interviews with the subjects. Ahleman’s work explores Asian American Identities in relation to the concept of exploitation through objectification.
Understanding her privilege as a biracial woman, Ahleman aims to explore the Asian American identity while simultaneously acknowledging her identity and privilege as someone who is half-white.
Historically throughout portrait painting and photography, themes of objectification are undeniably present. Many artists exploit the subject of their works by minimizing the subject to just one struggle they experience, one characteristic of their identity, or their physical appearance.
‘It was important to me to create a body of work which addresses the experiences of people who identify as Asian American whilst also focusing on intersectionality and the multifaceted nature of human identity. My intention was to not only paint a portrait of their image but to create an installation which embodies both their image and whole identity.”
The alignment of visual and audio aspects juxtaposes the efficiency with which a large-scale painted image captures someone and the time with which an audio recording deepens one's understanding of the subject.
Identity & Fortune was held at 1100 Florence Gallery in March of 2023, two pieces from this body of work (Camelia and June) were displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in June of 2023.