- Organizer: A/P/A Institute at NYU
- Address: New York, NY United States
A Meditation, Conversation, and Workshop on Embodied Safety, Solidarity, and Abolition
Presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, W.O.W. Project, and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Join us in welcoming Jess X. Snow, the Fall 2021 Student Artist-in-Residence, to the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU. Snow organizes a virtual gathering to envision together a future marked by safety, mutual care, and communal protection and free of violence, policing, borders, and binaries. The program will begin with a land acknowledgement by Ishkwaazhe Shane McSauby (NYU Tisch School of the Arts). Snow will then present a short artist talk on In The Future, a series of collaborative augmented reality public art pieces curated by Adriel Luis (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center) and installed in Times Square, Manhattan’s Chinatown, and Washington DC.
Snow and Luis will facilitate a conversation with artists, writers, and organizers Alán Pelaez Lopez (poet and artist), Mei Lum (W.O.W. Project), Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa), and Terisa Siagatonu (poet and educator) on how we can organize toward futures of safety through practices and rituals grounded in love, community care, and respect for the Indigenous lands we inhabit. We will then immerse ourselves in a guided somatic meditation by Nico Cary and an animation by Snow to visualize this future and feel it take form in our bodies. The program will conclude with a letter writing workshop led by youth from the W.O.W Project’s Resist Recycle Regenerate program. Attendees will be invited to contribute their writing for integration into the augmented reality elements that Snow is developing for their mural In the Future Our Asian Community is Safe.
From the artist:
Behind this Chinatown mural is a portal to a future. There is a place on the other side where, without the state, without prisons, we keep each other safe. Untouchable by white supremacy, uncontainable by nations and binaries. Our elders always make it home. The land is returned to Indigenous hands. And our children grow up knowing that one community’s safety cannot come at the cost of another’s.
This future is not just a destination, but a multi-generational lifelong practice that begins in the present moment. But how do we put this future into practice, if the constant state of racialized and environmental violence we live in, has numbed us to what safety feels like?
To arrive at that future, first we must begin with the body. We must travel back to a time before the pandemic, before borders, before binaries, where safety was not just a dream, but a felt experience. We invite you to visualize it as a community, and learn how we may collectively embody the practices of love, solidarity and creativity necessary to begin building toward this future. We invite you to leave behind a love letter as a seed and witness what futures it may one day grow, as it becomes part of the Augmented Reality of our mural in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown.
Accessibility note: This event will be hosted virtually on Zoom. A Zoom account, internet access, and a smartphone or computer is required. Closed captioning will be provided for all audio. If you have any access needs, please email email@example.com as soon as possible.
Jess X. Snow is a non-binary writer, director, public artist, children’s book author, and community arts educator who creates genre-defying queer Asian immigrant stories. Their ancestors are from Jiangxi, China. Currently, they are a guest on the unceded lands of the Lenape and Canarsie peoples. They are an MFA film student in the NYU Tisch School of the Arts as an Ang Lee Scholar. Through merging trauma-informed eastern modalities of healing with community arts activism and film directing, their stories explore intimacy, intergenerational trauma, time travel, and abolitionist futures. They see the process of filmmaking and murals as a way to build community, deepen solidarity, transcend trauma, and equip the next generation with tools to tell their own stories. Their film and immersive work has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, BAFTA, National Film Board of Canada, and distributed by HBO Max. Their murals, which center Asian/Pacific, Black, and Indigenous femmes, and queer and trans people of color, often created in collaboration with those communities, can be found on walls across the country. They are the Fall 2021 A/P/A Institute at NYU Student Artist-in-Residence.
Mei Lum is the fifth-generation store owner of Wing on Wo, the oldest store in New York Chinatown. In 2016, she founded The W.O.W. Project which envisions the future of Chinatown that centers young women and nonbinary youth in building intergenerational bridges of understanding, collective empowerment, and solidarity across Asian American communities and beyond. In light of Manhattan Chinatown’s rapid cultural displacement, Lum established community initiative, The W.O.W. Project in 2016 out of a desire to create an alternative space for femme, queer, and trans Asian youth to be at the helm of shaping Chinatown’s future through arts and activism.
Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio is a Kanaka Maoli wahine artist / activist / scholar / storyteller born and raised in Pālolo Valley to parents Jonathan and Mary Osorio. Osorio earned her PhD in English (Hawaiian literature) in 2018 from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Currently, Osorio is an assistant professor of Indigenous and Native Hawaiian Politics at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Osorio is a three-time national poetry champion, poetry mentor and a published author. She is a proud past Kaiāpuni student, Ford fellow, and a graduate of Kamehameha, Stanford University (BA) and New York University (MA). Her book Remembering our Intimacies: Moʻolelo, Aloha ʻĀina, and Ea was published in 2021 by The University of Minnesota Press.
Nico Cary comes from a large Black and Chinese family – like, grandmother twelfth of twelve, grandfather ninth of nine large. He is a dharma and medicine path practitioner, mindfulness teacher, writer, and performance artist. He received his BA from University of California, Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Studies Field School, specializing in cognitive linguistics. He is currently a Garrison Institute Fellow, and developing a multimedia installation on processing climate grief for the Smithsonian Institution. While engaged in a deeply fulfilling artistic career, Cary also proudly serves as a mindfulness facilitator for InsightLA. He is interested in the many different vocabularies of healing and the holding capacity of mindfulness, particularly as it relates to embodied activism and creative ecosystems.
Adriel Luis is a community organizer, artist, writer, and curator who believes that collective liberation can happen in poetic ways. His life’s work is focused on the mutual thriving of artistic integrity and social vigilance. He is a part of the iLL-Literacy arts collective, which creates music and media to strengthen Black and Asian coalitions, and is creative director of Bombshelltoe, a collaborative of artists and leaders from frontline communities responding to nuclear histories. Luis is the Curator of Digital and Emerging Practice at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, where he advocates for equitable practices in museums and institutions. His ancestors are rooted in Toisan, China, and migrated through Hong Kong, Mexico, and the United States. Luis was born on Ohlone land.
Ishkwaazhe Shane McSauby was born into the turtle clan of the Anishinaabe Nation and raised in his traditional territories now known as Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. McSauby is a writer and director currently living in Lenapehoking or New York City.
Alán Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous poet, installation and adornment artist from Oaxaca, México. Their work attends to the quotidian realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, the Black condition in Latin America, and the intimate kinship units that trans and nonbinary people build in the face of violence. Their debut visual poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), was a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award. They are also the author of the chapbook to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press, 2020). While they are an artist, Pelaez Lopez has also been organizing with undocumented migrants in the United States for over ten years and firmly believes that art is a portal into the future, but which future? That depends on the artist and the ideologies that move them.
Terisa Siagatonu is an award-winning touring poet, speaker, educator, and community organizer born and rooted in the Bay Area. Her voice in the poetry world as a queer Sāmoan woman has granted her opportunities to perform at the White House (Obama administration), UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, Asia Pacific Triennial, and 2019 San Francisco Women’s March, among other venues. One of the most memorable moments in her career was receiving President Obama’s Champion of Change Award for her activism as a poet/organizer in her Pacific Islander community. With numerous viral poetry videos garnering over millions of views collectively, Siagatonu’s writing and teaching blends the personal, cultural, and political in a way that calls for healing, courage, justice, and truth. A 2019 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 List Honoree and Kundiman fellow, Siagatonu’s work has been published in Poetry Magazine and has been featured on Button Poetry, CNN, NBCNews, NPR, KQED, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, The Guardian, and Buzzfeed.