American Immigrant To Be

Photographer & Creative Director: Kanya Iwana
Stylist: Savanna Chonis
Model: Kiv Atmojo

My brother and I are 8 years apart, and we have different fathers. He was a pain in my ass growing up and I had always resented the fact that I was no longer an only child. Ironically, when I became a teenager, I started accepting that I had a younger brother, who may or may not have looked up to me. I moved out of our house in Jakarta, Indonesia when I was 16 to pursue an early start to my college years and my career as an artist, and I hadn’t been home for 7 years. I had missed pivotal parts of his coming of age, and it truly discombobulated me to learn he is now a young man.

It is important for you to understand the time difference in Jakarta and Los Angeles and how that affects our communication; we don’t talk, ever. We were reunited again this very month, and we are two completely different people now – I have an 11 month old daughter, and he is now driving a car. We were no longer those kids that buy Famous Amos cookies at the mall, or who would spend so much money on tickets at the arcade so that we could play Time Crisis 4. Over a period of a week, I had to relearn our relationship. I had to relearn our dynamic. Most importantly, I had to relearn him.

I had to re-learn who he is, and to understand that he is about to enter a part of life that is vulnerable, scary, unfamiliar, and may potentially break him. Like his sister, he wants the American dream. He wants to embody the romanticization of working at the coffee shop after English 128, and maybe smoke some weed and watch Family Guy. The American Dream. It will reject him. It will disappoint him. It will destroy him. But, it will build him. It will teach him. It will strengthen him, and, I’m excited, petrified and dazed.


For this piece, I chose the aesthetic of baseball because it is the American pastime, something we didn’t grow up with but were exposed to from television – a micro seed that inspired the American Dream. My collaborator and stylist, Savanna Chonis, curated a 1970s vintage selection to compliment the nostalgia.