Clement Hanami is a Japanese-American artist who happened to grow up in East Los Angeles. It’s an experience that he says typifies the generations-long cultural exchange between Asian and Latino communities in California, one that the rest of the world is now paying attention to thanks to sweeping demographic change. But for Hanami, his bicultural experience informs his life – and his art.
Hanami’s recently gotten a lot of attention in West Coast art circles for his “Lowrider Rickshaw,” an object that stands as a symbol of cultural exchange between the two communities. Hanami reimagines the rickshaw’s Japanese origins by decking it out in classic Chicano lowrider style with chrome wheels, hydraulics and a sound system.
“Identity is something that’s inside of you. You really don’t examine it in full, it’s ingrained into you,” Hanami told Carren Jao at Artbound about his increasingly brazen rickshaws, which he says are meant to be a lighthearted take on Asian-American and Chicano culture. “They’re meant to be humorous in that we can look at our culture and identities and understand that there are similarities in how we look at each other.”