Thursday, October 31, 2013

Remembering curator Karin Higa

I don't remember when I first met Karin Higa, as it seems that she has always been at the center of Asian American art and critical race art history, but I do remember when I last saw her.

It was in the East Room of the White House on June 3, 2013 for an event organized by the White House Historical Association "in celebration of American art." We had been invited by the First Lady Michelle Obama and it was pretty amazing to see how many artist and curators of color were included. After the First Lady addressed our party, art historian Margo Machida found Karin sitting at a table to the side of the golden room bracing herself from the buzz of the festivities. She was wearing a stylish black and tan geometric designed sheath dress, a fabulous handbag (I'm remembering cobalt blue) and her signature black rimmed glasses. She had also lost much of her hair and was visibly very weak. I didn't know she had cancer until this moment. I had just seen her the summer before at an NEH Summer Institute on Asian American Art, where she was one of our instructors. A nervous group picture was taken. We got her some water. I'm kicking myself now for not staying there with her for not telling her how much I've admired her, how important she is. As a fellow Uchinanchu American I also sought her out to hear her personal story. Her last name is a family name in my family as well. I had hoped we were related. She was honestly one of the smartest women I know. She seemed so invincible... I guess I just assumed she would beat this, that she'd still be here. I'm in shock this morning to hear that she passed on. We are all going to miss her so much.
Karin Higa July 2012
Karin Higa July 2012 taking a tour of Po Kim's studio.
Karin Higa, in the center, surrounded by participants from the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute - Re-Envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching July 2012

David Ng, "Karin Higa, longtime L.A. art curator, dies at 47," LA Times, October 31, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Indigo: Laura Kina and Shelly Jyoti - Opens Sat, Nov 16 @ Gandhi Memorial Center in Washington DC



Saturday, November 16, 2013
Gandhi Memorial Center
Opening Reception from 2 to 4pm
Inaugural Remarks at 2:30pm

With Distinguished Guest

Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu

Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India

RSVP for Opening Reception by 11-14-2013

Exhibition May Be Viewed Through January 2014
Fridays and Saturdays 10am - 4pm and By Appointment

Shelly Jyoti’s “Indigo Narratives” refer to the 19th century history of India’s indigo farmers, their oppression and Mahatma Gandhi’s subsequent non-violent resistance leading to India’s freedom. Shelly lived in Gujarat, India and her “Narratives” use traditional embroidery by rural women in Gujarat with support of Shrujan: Threads of Life and indigo resist dyeing printing on khadi fabric with the 9th generation ajrakh artisans of Gujarat famed for their bold embellished textiles.

Laura Kina’s “Devon Avenue Sampler” is a portrait of her South Asian/Jewish Chicago neighborhood, West Roger’s Park, and features a bricolage of pop street signage rendered in patchwork quilt paintings. The “Sampler” includes works hand embroidered by artisans from MarketPlace: Handwork of India, a fair trade women’s organization in Mumbai, India. Laura lives and works in Chicago’s “Little India”, a vibrant multiethnic immigrant community.

This exhibit is presented by the Gandhi Memorial Center in cooperation with 
the Embassy of India and with support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Gandhi Memorial Center, 4748 Western Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20816
The common thread between both bodies of work is the color indigo blue from India’s colonial past, to indigo-dyed Japanese kasuri fabrics and boro patchwork quilts, through blue threads of a Jewish prayer tallis, to working class blue jeans in the U.S. Since 2009, “Indigo” has exhibited in galleries
and cultural centers in Baroda, New Delhi, Mumbai, Seattle, Miami, and Chicago.

CARE Package c/o New Delhi, India Nov 7-15, 2013

Press Release

CARE Package c/o New Delhi, India

Curated by Ombretta Agró Andruff in collaboration with the artists 

Opening Reception: Friday, November 8th, 2013. 6:30pm onwards

India International Centre
Annex Art Gallery, Lodhi Estate
40, Max Mueller Marg
New Delhi, India 110003

Follow the project on Facebook:

IIC is thrilled to announce its upcoming exhibition, CARE Package c/o New Delhi, India, with an opening reception on November 8th, 2013. The show runs from November 7–15, 2013.

Inspired by the concept of "CARE Package", the exhibition brings together five international women artists from Asia or of Asian descent, touching venues in North America as well as Asia. The exhibition debuted in the USA at Twelve Gates Gallery in Philadelphia (October 2012) and is traveling next to IIC, New Delhi before going on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia [the city named in the title changes according to the hosting location].

A rich tradition exists throughout Asian countries of gift packages exchanged as social contract and, while unwritten, they embody strong cultural, social, political and economic codings. In North America, care packages are associated with gifts sent from loved ones to their children and youth who are away from home (usually off to camp, college, or the military). Historically the CARE package was the unit of aid at the core of the food relief effort developed in 1945 by the USA-based humanitarian CARE organization and was sent to a large number of Europeans at risk of starvation in the wake of World War II. It soon became an icon of American generosity and global leadership.

In an era where the concept of “American generosity and global leadership” is a far cry from its meaning during the post-war years and very much up for debate, the participating artists tell stories that grew out of their own personal history and cultural heritage to tackle issues of nationhood, race, gender, religion, and economic exploitation on a world scale, in the context of emergent global capitalism.

Storytelling and a deep interest in history and untold stories is a shared strategy amongst this newly formed collective of interdisciplinary women artists who have historical and contemporary links to disparate geographies such as India, Pakistan, Japan, Cambodia, Canada and the USA. In a grass roots diplomatic effort, they are collaborating with an Italian, New York/ Miami-based curator to conduct a trans-cultural dialogue between their works, their countries of origin, and the intersections and migrations between.

Artists: Shelly Bahl (born in Benares, living between New York and Toronto); Shelly Jyoti (Born in Rohtak, living in New Delhi); Laura Kina (born in Riverside, CA, to an Okinawan father and Basque/Anglo mother, and living in Chicago); Saira Wasim (born in Lahore, living in California); and Cambodian-American Anida Yoeu Ali (born in Battambang, Cambodia, raised in Chicago, currently living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia).

For more information, contact curator Ombretta Agro' in Miami
Or in New Delhi, contact artist Shelly Jyoti
Tel: 91 9582252062

This New Delhi exhibition is organized by India International Centre.

About the artists and their works:
Shelly Bahl is a visual and media artist born in Benares, India, and currently based in New York City and Toronto. She received her B.F.A. (Visual Art and Art History) from York University, Toronto and her M.A. (Studio Art) from New York University. Her interdisciplinary work in drawing, painting, sculpture/ installation, photography and video, explores surreal narratives of the lives of trans-cultural women. Her work has appeared in a number of solo and group exhibitions in North America and internationally over the past 18 years.

The Sweetest Gift explores the nature of gift giving in a globalized economy, via an abandoned suitcase filled with candy. The artist explores the power relationship between the gift giver and the recipient. This dynamic will be reflected in the highly controlled enactment of the gift exchange, with detailed instructions on a note-card next to the suitcase. The gift recipients will have to explore their own fears of the unknown and trust issues in their choice to consume the gift of candy from a stranger.

Shelly Jyoti is a visual artist, fashion designer, poet, an independent researcher and a curator whose research centers on design and visual representation within the cultural context of Indian history. She is trained in fashion design and clothing technology at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi and earned her Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University in Chandigarh. She lives and works in New Delhi, India. Her writings and paintings have been published and exhibited in India & internationally.

The installation Reciprocity of love: Shagun (2012) is inspired by Marcel Mauss book “Gift” (1923) which notes the expressions of love that helps balances the power of relationships in the tradition of reciprocity and gift exchange. It consists of a mobile site specific installation created with 101 envelopes, 7x4 inches each (batuhas) made of silk brocade fabric textiles hanging from the ceiling attached with sacred thread mouli (red,yellow colour) used for festive and joyous occasions.

Laura Kina is an Associate Professor of Art, Media, and Design and distinguished Vincent de Paul Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She is a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago (MFA 2001) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA 1994). Born in Riverside, California in 1973 to an Okinawan father from Hawai’i and a Spanish-Basque/Anglo mother, Kina was raised in Poulsbo, WA, a small Norwegian town in the Pacific Northwest. The artist currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. She has shown extensively in the US and internationally and her academic work has been widely published.

Omiyage features a series of four fabric panels that portray segments of story of the artist's father and his relationship with his absent father. The title for this series refers to the Japanese tradition of omiyage, small gifts wrapped in ornately decorated handmade fabric, while the form of the paintings derives from the patchwork quilt tradition which is a common baby gift in Hawaii.

Saira Wasim is a noted USA-based contemporary artist from Pakistan. She has carved a niche for herself with her innovative and meticulously crafted Persian miniatures, which she employs to make devastating political and social commentary. Her work has been widely feted, and has been exhibited at numerous prominent art institutions in the USA and abroad. The artist was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and currently lives in California.

Wasim's work has always been politically charged and reflects her background and the transition ‘between’ her old and new worlds; stylistically the works are deeply committed to the tradition of Mughal miniature painting. This centuries-old art practice involves a very strict discipline and is a constructive process; it takes months to finish a single small-size painting. For this exhibition the artist created a 5-minute animation film entitled Lines of Confrontation through which she comments on the nature of the ‘strange aid packages’ sent to Pakistan from the USA.

Anida Yoeu Ali is a performance artist, writer and global agitator, who is a first generation Muslim Khmer woman born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago. Utilizing video, installation, sound, and performance, her works investigate the artistic, spiritual and political collisions of a hybrid transnational identity. She is a collaborative partner with Studio Revolt, an independent artist-run media lab that produces films, videos, installations and performance projects in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She is a recipient of the 2011 U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to Cambodia where her art and research focused on creation mythologies and birthing stories of Khmer women.

The work in the show belongs to the Gallery X series: a participatory project, comprised of digital portraits and a site-specific installation that engages “everyday” communities in art-making and art-viewing. Specifically, the project continues Studio Revolt’s interest in creating narratives of Cambodians by Cambodians beyond war and poverty. Gallery X is a series of public portraits capturing people caught in a moment between heaven and earth—an exhilarating moment of joy. These “jumpshot” portraits became a way to spread joy amongst artists, participants, and viewers.

Ombretta Agrò Andruff is a New York City and Miami-based freelance curator, art critic and consultant. Born in Turin, Italy, in 1971 she graduated from the University of Art and Literature in Siena, Italy, in 1995 and holds a post-graduate degree in International Cultural Management from the ICCM in Salzburg, Austria, and Fitzcarraldo Foundation in Turin, Italy.

Since her move to the USA in 1998 she has curated solo and group shows in Europe, the USA, and India, collaborating with museums, art festivals, commercial galleries and art fairs. She has written essays for several books and catalogues. Since 2005 she has been a consultant to the Italian Cultural Institute in New York City and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs. From 2007 to 2012 she consulted the Religare Arts Initiative, a New Delhi-based art organization, as their International Art Advisor.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oct 12th 2pm film screening of Jane Jin Kaisen's "The Woman, The Orphan and The Tiger" at the WING

TODAY!!! at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle 719 S. King St:

• FILM SCREENING: The Woman, The Orphan and The Tiger | Saturday, October 12 @ 2pm

The Woman, The Orphan and the Tiger looks at violence against women and children in the context of international geopolitics. The film connects three generations of women in South Korea, from Japanese colonization through the Korean War and beyond. A still of this film is on display in War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art, currently on display at The Wing. A panel discussion with a question and answer will follow with members of the Asian Adult Adoptees of WA.

Tickets: $10 general, $8 members includes access to self-view the exhibition galleries

Jane Jin Kaisen (b. 1980)
The Woman, the Orphan, and the Tiger, 2010
Single-channel video, DVCPRO 720p
75 min

By Jane Jin Kaisen in collaboration with Guston Sondin-Kung. Main contributors to the film: Grace M. Cho, Jane Jeong Trenka, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Maja Lee Langvad, Soni Kum, Tammy Chu, Nathalie-Mihee Lemoine, Nu Young Nim, Pak Chun Sung, Myung Ki Suk, Rachel, Isabel.

Image Courtesy of the artist

Jane Jin Kaisen is a visual artist born in South Korea and adopted to Denmark in 1980. She has an MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the University of California Los Angeles and is a Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program alumni. Working in a project-based manner within the mediums of film, performance, and writing, she creates multi-layered narratives that seek to renegotiate representations of memory, history, and transnational subjectivity. Kaisen has exhibited her works and screened her films in various contexts in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Beyond her individual artistic practice, she is part of the artist collective itinerant_sends_for_itinerant with Guston Sondin-Kung.

Filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro "A Lot Like You" at DePaul Oct 15-16, 2013

Oct 15th film screening and Q&A with Eliachi Kimaro

Oct 16th workshop with Eliachi Kimaro

Eliaichi Kimaro

Cultural Café: A Lot Like You

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013
Cortelyou Commons, 2324 N Fremont St.
Join documentary filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro for a screening and discussion of scenes from A Lot Like Me, her own original autobiographical journey of self-discovery. Her film follows her experience as a mixed-race, first-generation American reconciling the culture she’s inherited with how she defines herself today.

Cultural Café: Exploring Identity Through Story

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013
Student Center 314AB, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
Focusing on the power of personal narrative, documentary filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro uncovers why it is critical that we find a way to share our stories with others. This workshop will explore our understanding of who we are, where we come from and where we belong.


Independent Director and Producer Eliaichi Kimaro is a mixed-race, first-generation American who worked for 15 years as a professional crisis counselor for survivors of rape and domestic violence before becoming a filmmaker. Her company, 9elephants productions, uses video as a means to address social justice issues, bringing stories of struggle, resistance and survival to a broader audience. In addition to producing non-profit videos about social, economic, and environmental justice issues, she has led a week-long filmmaking camp for girls, and consults with non-profits to support them in producing their own videos.

Eliaichi brings a lifetime of personal and professional experience dealing with race, gender, domestic and sexual violence to her directorial debut, the autobiographical film, A Lot Like You, which won Best Documentary at the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature at the 2011 Montreal International Black Film Festival, Best Film Award at African Diaspora International Film Festival, and the Top 10 Audience Choice Award when it premiered at the 2011Seattle International Film Festival.

Kimaro is founder /director of 9elephants productions, a company that uses video to bring stories of struggle, resistance and survival to a broader audience. Her directorial debut, A Lot Like You, has won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Film at the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and the 2011 Montreal International Black Film Festival. Drawing on her 9-year film journey, she is currently engaging communities across the country in discussion about some of the issues in her film, including gender violence, mixed race/multicultural issues, cultural identity and the power of personal story telling.

Honored to have my work included in Marking Bodies of Peace: Okinawan Performance Art and Cultural Activism

Flier for the Oct 2, 2013 event Marking Bodies of Peace at University of Wisconsin
I was honored to have reproductions of my 2010 "Hajichi" paintings and my 2011 "Issei" painting from my Sugar series included in the October 2, 2013 "Marking Bodies of Peace: Okinawan Performance Art and Cultural Activism"- an evening of Okinawan performance art featuring: Sumiko Kitajima in "Hajichi" (Okinawan Hand Tattoos). Special thanks to professor Valerie Holshouser Barske, Assistant Professor of History, for organizing this and inviting me to be part of this event. Here is a recap of the event from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student newspaper "The Pointer"
“Bodies of Peace” Makes its Mark on UWSP
Mary Marvin
Students were treated to the cultural experience of a lifetime this Wednesday as audience members were astounded by Okinawan Performance Art.

“Marking Bodies of Peace” is a unique show, highlighting art forms such as dance, music and drama, as well as giving the audience a chance to interact with the performers. The show focuses on traditional Okinawan culture.

Okinawa represents a space known as the “Keystone of the Pacific” which is located in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

The atmosphere in Okinawa today is tense, due largely to the occupation of nearly 50,000 American troops.

“Okinawans utilize cultural performance as a powerful vehicle to construct a collective identity that resists war, embraces peace and strives for sustainability,” said Valerie Barske, assistant professor of history at UWSP.

The show was a hit from the beginning, drawing in more people than the venue could hold. Every available spot on the floor was taken, and with good reason.
Haruka Shingaki was the dancer of the evening, treating the audience to traditional Okinawan dances about love and farewells.

After a welcoming message from event organizers Valerie Barske and Eiko Ginoza, the show continued with a reading from “June Sky,” a children’s book about the tragedy in Okinawa that occurred in 1959. The story is about a plane that crashed into an elementary school, ending several young lives. The reading was an emotional journey through the eyes of a child dealing with the aftermath.

Then came the highlight of the evening, a one-woman performance by Sumiko Kitajima. Kitajima played a grandmother talking to her granddaughter who was about to be married. The grandmother told stories of when she was first married, and how she received her first Hajichi tattoos.

Hajichi are tattoos that Okinawan women receive when they go through milestones in life, such as getting married or having their first child.

Through Kitajima’s performance, we learned about Okinawan culture and the legend of how the first tattoos were given to women by the gods as reward for their hard work.
Though the one-woman play was entirely in Japanese, it was very easy to understand. “Grandmother” is a universal language. It was a unique experience in storytelling.
The audience got to chime in and help Kitajima sing a traditional blessing song. Everyone lent their voice and for a moment, we were all a family at grandma’s house.
The night finished off with everyone out of their seats and dancing. There wasn’t a face without a smile.
“Marking Bodies of Peace” should be considered a great success. Everyone in the crowd was educated and entertained.​

Friday, October 11, 2013

I have two new works in ¡VIVA LA SOUL POWER! opening Oct 17, 2013

¡VIVA LA SOUL POWER! October 17–November 8, 2013

Exhibition Opening Reception:
¡VIVA LA SOUL POWER!, a pop-up exhibition, is part of the month-long residency of the performance artist, Robert Karimi, the People’s Cook. The exhibition features interactive cultural installations by local and national artists and a series of special programs advocating nourishment of the soul and community. The goal of ¡VIVA LA SOUL POWER! is to bring people together through food. Come feed and be fed, and help us kick off the beginning of a cooking revolution!

Where: 623 S Wabash Ave, Hokin Project Gallery, Chicago, IL

When: October 17 @ 5:00 – 8:00

FYI - My department is hiring

The Department of Art, Media, and Design at DePaul University seeks to hire a tenure-track Assistant Professor with an interdisciplinary focus in digital art and in print media beginning Fall Quarter 2014. Candidates should be prepared to teach 2-D studio, digital, and seminar art courses in the department's core curriculum as well as art courses for majors and non-majors in the university's Liberal Studies program. Additional experience in interdisciplinary artistic practice in a particular field, such as digital imaging within the Mac platform, book art, and/or traditional and non-traditional non-toxic printmaking, etc. is encouraged. Candidates must have the appropriate terminal degree, expertise in teaching, and an extensive record of exhibition and/or ongoing creative activity. The teaching load is two courses per quarter with three quarters per academic year, and there are service and research expectations.

Required qualifications are: 1) MFA in a visual arts field; 2) Minimum one to two years of post-graduate teaching experience on the undergraduate college/university level, preferably in a liberal arts setting, teaching experience at the graduate level preferred; 3) Knowledge of traditional and contemporary issues in the visual arts, 4) Record of professional accomplishments and activities, and 5) Extensive record of exhibition and creative activity.

The Department of Art, Media, and Design has ten tenured/tenure-track faculty members as well as support staff and part-time faculty members. Our degree program is composed of two concentrations, Studio Art and Media Art, with a range of subspecialties in each concentration and three minors. We offer a BA degree within the context of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. DePaul is committed to recruiting a diverse faculty to complement the diversity of its student body and the Chicago area. For that reason, we especially encourage women, minority candidates, and persons with disabilities to apply.

Please see our web site for additional information at:

Please submit the following documents electronically at:

Only complete applications will be reviewed.
1. Cover letter - please indicate if you will be able to attend the C.A.A. conference in Chicago in February 2013, 2. Curriculum vitae, 3. Teaching philosophy statement, 4. A list of four to five references with contact information (reference letters will be required of the finalists only), 5. A compressed PDF file with 20 examples of your professional visual arts work (submitted as "Publication 1"), and 6. A compressed PDF file with 20 examples of your students' visual arts work (submitted as "Publication 2").

The deadline for all materials is December 8, by 11:59 P.M. A criminal background check is also required for the finalists. The committee also plans to meet candidates at the C.A.A. conference in February 2014 in Chicago. Please indicate in your cover letter if you will be able to attend the conference.

Required Applicant Documents:
1. Cover letter
2. Curriculum vitae
3. Teaching philosophy statement
4. References - A list of four to five references, with contact information
5. Publication 1 - A compressed PDF file of 20 example of your professional work visual arts work
6. Publication 2 - A compressed PDF file of 20 examples of students' visual arts work