Heronima Valledor

The Dragon Lady

As a young Chinese-Filipino woman, I see how demeaning stereotypes of Asian women have become normalized and have made their way into my everyday experience. The history of this objectification can be traced to the American Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, when men from East Asia immigrated to the West Coast hoping to find a better life. Over time, they grew lonely and in need of company. Women were shipped overseas to entertain the men who were stuck working, and this made their introduction to America a sexual one. With little to no other options, working at brothels, as prostitutes, and as geishas became very common. For many men, this was their first exposure to East-Asian women, thus portraying them as exotic and mysterious sexual objects. Soon, fetishizations of young Asian women in the media became circulated widely, and names like Lotus Flower and Dragon Lady were tossed around and ended up sticking. Within this project, I wanted to recreate and reference old posters and images taken of East-Asian women immigrating to America from the 1800s up until now. I am interested in the aesthetic of Wong Kar Wai’s films and old photos of Anna May Wong—the first Asian woman in a Hollywood film—documenting these “tropes” and dynamics. I want to play with color, texture, and lighting in an attempt to honor Asian women, and talk about the important and unspoken history of The Dragon Lady and all that comes with that title.

Heronima Valledor is a digital photographer born and raised in Queens, New York. Heronima attends Fiorello Laguardia High School as a Fine Arts major. She joined the photography class there, where she worked with both analog and digital cameras. Photographing with friends and family initially, Heronima’s work was recognized by peers, and she was hired as the official photographer for her school’s events and showcases. She was later accepted into the International Center of Photography’s Teen Academy Imagemakers program, working toward developing a portfolio and professional network. Heronima works in editorial and documentary portraiture, exploring themes of femininity, friendship, and identity. She hopes to continue with this art form, and learn more about the world of photography and visual culture in the context of communications and marketing. Heronima wishes to take all that she has learned from her experience in the arts and use it to explore different career paths—ultimately finding something of interest that ties it all together.