Wishbone Makes a Break from Campus
the past 10 years, students have rubbed the "Broken Wishbone"
sculpture for good luck on finals and stood beside it for graduation
photos. On loan from Bay Area artist Lori Kay, the wishbone will soon
be moved from campus to the I. Wolk Sculpture Gallery at Napa's Auberge
du Soleil hotel. A replacement installation will be considered after
the expansion of the nearby J. Paul Leonard Library is complete.
Kay, an award-winning sculptor and mixed media artist, grew up with
the tradition of breaking wishbones and is now passing it on to her
3-year-old twin daughters. The inspiration for her signature piece,
however, runs much deeper.
In October, she shared the influence her parents have had on her life
and artwork with students in Professor Wei Ming Dariotis's "Asian
Americans of Mixed Heritage" class. Like the wishbone, Kay revealed
that she has long felt pulled in two directions.
Kay's mother was a Southern belle, her father, a native of the Philippines.
In the early 1960s, biracial marriage was prohibited by state law in
Virginia, where Kay's mother lived. The couple was able to marry in
Washington, D.C., and later moved to California. Kay remembers painful
encounters with people who assumed that, because she looked nothing
like her mother, she was an adopted child.
Her artwork helped her explore issues surrounding her identity, to understand
it and accept it. "I never want to be something different than
what I am, but it took me a long time to get to that place," she
Professor Dariotis has enjoyed having the sculpture on campus. "‘Broken
Wishbone' has so much symbolic resonance for me as a person of mixed
heritage," she says. "I relate to the struggle to not be torn
apart in my identity.… In many ways, [Kay's] artwork is the perfect
piece for SFSU -- it represents the possibilities of the doorway, the
struggle to negotiate sometimes competing identities -- these are things
all of the members of our campus community can relate to."
Kay invested $10,000 in materials and nine months of time to create
the wishbone. The centuries-old lost-wax process proved difficult and
time-consuming, but, she jokes, "it was more fun than carrying