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I dream in English -- digital painting by Ria Unson

I dream in English


digital composite of pencil, gouache, digital paint, photography

dimensions variable, horizontal orientation

edition of 1

My mother was a devout Christian woman who lived her whole life in the Philippines. When she attended Bible Studies hosted by earnest proselytizing American missionaries, they would often comment on how well she spoke English. She would always hide her irritation and reply sweetly, “I dream in English.” 


This composition is inspired by the emotional tension of Sargent’s portrait of the Boit Sisters. Using models from four generations of family photographs, I capture the feeling of occupying multiple spaces and times simultaneously, while not having full access to any—the price one pays for being an assimilated transnational, a Filipino who dreams in English.


This painting addresses the psychic legacies of colonialism and migration—recurring themes in my art practice.

Collection: Liminal Spaces


Tupas, T., "Bourdieu, historical forgetting, and the problem of English in the Philippines," 2008

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