Graduation Day is part of my soft powers series of velvet fiber etchings. The notion of soft power is understood as the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce. Reframing this concept to describe a kind of “code-switching,” this series considers the covert skills that many of us begin to develop as children as we adapt to various environments. For children of immigrants, particularly those of families who have migrated from the global South to the global North, these skills are uniquely nuanced. Continuously traversing private to public spheres, from households of collectivist ideals to institutional and social spaces that encourage individual expression, children quickly learn to code-switch and navigate the disparate realities around them. These strategies are especially nuanced in young girls, who often receive heightened scrutiny as they are coming of age.

Each piece in soft powers depicts intimate moments of leisure among familiar company, moments when...

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