Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Many-Splendored Thing opens Friday, April 2, 2010

My show "A Many-Splendored Thing" opens Friday, April 2, 2010 at the Gene Siskel Film Center 164 N. State Street Chicago, IL
The show will run through May 30, 2010.
Laura Kina "A Many-Splendored Thing" was curated by Larry Lee in conjunction with the 15th annual Foundation for Asian American Independent Media's Asian American Showcase.

For more info and to read Larry's essay visit:

Special thanks to Tim Hugh, the festival director, and graphic designer Anna Kong for making the event poster, and the fabulous Mr. Lee himself!

Larry Lee ended up picking out 44 works for the show including: selections from my recent 2009 Devon Avenue Sampler series; the 2007/2008 Aloha Dreams series; the 2006 Loving series; 2003-2005 Hapa Soap Opera series; and a few of my UIC grad school thesis works from my 2001 Refrigerator series, which were featured in the Spertus exhibition The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation.

Larry also went through the archives and pulled out really early works starting from 1994, some which have never been shown before and some which we shipped back from private collections. These include: Tea Party, Spam Sushi, Rice Cooker, and Kadosh. Rice Cooker is a 1999 semi-abstract work with anime eyes which I painted and then promptly hid away (still not sure if it's any good but Larry likes it).

My 1994 Tea Party painting is especially sentimental to me as it features my late little sister, Alison Diane Kina, and me playing tea party. Alison had Down's Syndrome and passed away when she was 12. We were 3 years apart and shared a bedroom so we were very close. This was the only painting that I did as an undergraduate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that my late professor Ray Yoshida (1930-2009) liked. I idolized him and was always looking for his approval. This was probably due to the fact that he was an older guy from Hawai'i and he reminded me of my dad. Plus he was the reason I moved across the country from Seattle to Chicago to go to SAIC. I had seen his work and knew he was the person I wanted to study under. Ditto for the reason I chose to go to UIC. I saw a painting by Kerry James Marshall at the MCA and I decided then and there that he was the person who I wanted to study under. At any rate, Ray like Tea Party probably because it was heavily influenced by his own work. My parents own this piece and it's been hanging in their dining room in Poulsbo, WA for the past 15 years.

I had been meaning to track Ray down and thank him for being such a great teacher. In 2008 I got his address in Hawai'i from his friend and fellow Chicago Imagist artist Karl Wirsum. The address sat in my "To Do" box and in 2009, when he passed away, obviously it was too late to say thank you. At the same time I had been meaning to shoot an oral history video with an old timer from Camp 5 sugar cane plantation in Piihonua, Joji Shiro, who also passed away before we could shoot the interview. The lesson I took away from this was to say "thank you" faster AND I was propelled to start an Asian American Art Oral History project at DePaul with my students. Two classes of students in my Asian American Art and Culture course have completed over 20 interviews to date with Mid-west based artists such as Tatsu Aoki, Michiko Itatani, Saira Wasim, Indira Freitas Johnson and many others. It's really cool. The archives are housed at DePaul's Richardson Library and are available to the public for research. Contact Kathryn DeGraff at 773-325-2167 for more information. I hope to have them available online in the near future.

The funniest work of all is a 1995 series of 20 drawings called (and quite earnestly) Famous Asian Americans in History. The series includes quick sketches of people like Connie Chung and the late Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka and classics like Frank Chin and Maxine Hong Kingston (placed next to each other, of course). The works were created for a collaborate video project, under the same title, with Larry Lee and Carlton Mok (aka Mo) for the now defunct DestinAsian as part of a an educational program for Walt Disney Magnet school kids back in 1995.

I hope you can join us in celebrating 15 years of the Asian American Showcase. It's quite an honor to have my work showcased this year. A big Thank You to everyone who helped make this show and this work happen.

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