Jason Lam was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He graduated from the University of California: Los Angeles with a degree in Film and Television. His photographs explore the relationship between identity and culture. His photographs have been printed in numerous publications such as The New York Times – Metropolitan, The New York Times – Lens Blog, The International New York Times, National Geographic (中文版), PDN Photo of the Day, San Francisco Magazine, Slant’d Magazine, Dance Magazine, and New York Edited – Bonds and Borders.
Inside The Lion
I started lion dancing when I was 12 years old, and as a teenager growing up between two cultures, lion dancing is one of those activities I embraced with great passion because it gave me a place to belong.
Growing up as a first-generation Chinese-American involves a tough balancing act between not being “Chinese” enough in the eyes of our parents and not being “American” enough to everybody else. We are raised in traditional households, yet, we live in a completely different world. We have two different lives, maintain two different personas, and we have to figure out how to exist in a culture that doesn’t completely understand us.
I’m interested in the unique lives that Chinese-Americans experience. Lion dancing involves intense training, usually in addition to school and work, what motivates us to sacrifice so much time and energy on this ancient art form? What role does it play in our lives? What does its appeal say about Eastern and Western culture?
Similar to the involvement young American men have grown up participating in competitive sports such as football and basketball, for many young Chinese-American men, lion dancing provides the link between home and the real world where we can find both acceptance and a sense of belonging.
In photographing the Wan Chi Ming Lion Dance Group, I’ve discovered loyalty, innocence, perspiration, and dedication.
To view more of Jason Lam’s work please visit their website.