Mary Ma

Narrating Ourselves From The City

September 21 - December 18, 2022

About Mary Ma

Mary Ma: My Grandma is a Carved Name on a Tombstone

“This poem and digital story are about identity, grief, and relationship. The poem’s fugue form – which examines a central theme through several repetitions and different contexts – allowed me to explore the image of a magpie as it related to my family, my identity, and my grandmother. For the video, I chose videos of magpies and Ireland, keeping the visuals simple to highlight the poem and its musicality. I also examine in this work the complexities of my Chinese and Irish ethnicities and being an immigrant’s daughter, as well as unraveling the legacy of colonialism. However, the heart of the piece is between me and my grandma. Every time I see a magpie, I remember her and her rhyme. My future children will never meet my grandmother, only knowing her through stories and memory, and as the years pass, I lose more and more to the decay of time. However, this is not a poem about defeat, but a place of reclamation, relation, and remembrance to honour how car rides to Sunday Mass in a little Irish town and a simple rhyme my grandma gave me echo softly and warmly into my past, present and future. My grandmother will always be with me, for even after death, love remains.”

Mary Ma: My Grandma is a Carved Name on a Tombstone

 

Mary Ma & Sergio Plazas: Filia

“Filia” chronicles my life-long relationship with my identity and its core elements: gender, ethnic, bodily, existential, and religious. My relationship with my identity and existence has been fraught with anxiety and despair since I was a young child. An amalgamation of factors, including my mixed ethnicities and struggles with trauma, fractured my sense of self and worth. I was a perpetual “other.” Fundamentally, I did not know the answer to the question, “does my existence have meaning?” Was I known, loved, or wanted? Was it good to be, despite life inevitably containing suffering, and was it good to be me, despite my brokenness? Until this year, I thought the answer to these questions was probably no. Before, I believed I had to justify my identity and existence, prove I was a woman, Chinese, Irish, Canadian, meaningful, and loveable. In January 2020, my life completely changed when I realized God existed and He loved me, personally. It further changed this year when I finally understood that just because I exist I have identity, meaning, and am loveable. This poem and digital story is meant to limn my 23-year odyssey of identity, tracing me in a car, a solitary and transitory space, into a Catholic chapel, my community and home. I am secure in an identity I do not have to work for, because a child is simply cared for and loved. The piece is titled “Filia,” Latin for “daughter,” representative of my most fundamental, unchanging identity as a daughter of God. All my other identities stem from this. In the piece, Jesus calls me into resurrection in Cantonese and Irish – “小女, éirigh” – a translation of the words He speaks when He resurrects Jairus’ daughter. Through my identity, gender, ethnicity, sufferings, and body, God resurrects, heals, and transfigures me. In this project, I desire for my audience to confront these questions within themselves, ascend into a place of secure identity where they understand they are seen and loved as they are, and reach a place of unchanging peace, knowing that it is good for each one of them to be. For both of these projects and for “Filia” in particular, I would especially like to thank my dear fiancée Sergio Plazas. He directed, recorded, and edited “Filia,” and he also helped me invaluably throughout the creative process, encouraging me and guiding me when I was lost or discouraged. He spent many hours behind the scenes editing this project, and I truly would not have been able to create this project without his support, time, talent, and love.”

Mary Ma & Sergio Plazas: Filia

Biography:

“Mary Ma is a twenty-three-year-old Catholic woman from Calgary studying English and Psychology at Mount Royal University. Through her writing and art, she wishes to humanize her perspective; pursue truth, beauty, and goodness; and ultimately serve God. Mary hopes to continue writing as a lifelong pursuit because it is her main method of understanding the world, others, and herself.”

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