Jess X. Snow is a non-binary film director, public artist, poet, children’s book author, and community arts educator who creates speculative, queer Asian immigrant stories that transcend borders, binaries, and time. Based on the unceded lands of the Lenape and Canarsie peoples, they are currently an MFA film student in the NYU Tisch School of the Arts as an Ang Lee Scholar. They bring their background in social movement art, poetry, and trauma-informed healing into their work, which has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, National Film Board of Canada, HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries, and Smithsonian Institution. Their narrative short Little Sky, which premiered at Frameline45 and Outfest 2021, is distributed through HBO Max. They are the author and illustrator of the forthcoming picture book, We Always Had Wings (Make Me A World/Penguin Random House, 2023). Their artwork has been featured in international protests, billboards, bus shelters, broadway theaters, and museums and covered by PBS Newshour, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. 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.
During my residency at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, I will expand In The Future, Our Asian Community is Safe, a series of public art projects installed in New York and Washington DC, that includes a mural, co-created with the W.O.W. Project, on Mosco Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The series is a collaboration with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and curated by Adriel Luis. With Asian American healers, organizers, coders, community members, and AR artist Wiena Lin, I will activate the mural into an interactive portal that gestures toward a loving future without anti-Asian violence, white supremacy, the police state, binaries, and borders. Visitors will use augmented reality to see the mural animate to life—Indigenous plants of Lenapehoking will bloom and reclaim the streets, and diasporic birds from Asia will weave through an elder’s embrace. The project will also explore how our visions of safety for Asian communities are interconnected with the sovereignty of Indigenous and Pacific Islander communities. Visitors globally will be invited into this portal to share a love letter that manifests safety, mutual care, and communal protection.
Vulnerability is a tool for resistance. Art is a portal to futures we have been denied. Behind this mural is a door.
There is a place on the other side where we keep each other safe. There is a place where we are untouchable by white supremacy, uncontainable by nations and binaries. There is a place where our elders always make it home. All we have to do is walk through.
Jess X. Snow, Student Artist-in-Residence
Message from A/P/A
Commemorating the twenty-fifth year of the A/P/A Institute at NYU provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the countless people and moments that have helped shape our collective community. Given the precarity that has defined much of the past two years, taking stock of who we are and where we are going necessitates visionary individuals who can help us courageously dream alternative worlds and futurities into lived realities. For these reasons and more, we are grateful and honored that Jess X. Snow will be our Student Artist-in-Residence this fall. Our current moment demands creativity and collaboration that cultivates mutually beneficial relationships across communities. Snow plants the seeds for genuine security and sanctuary while being deeply mindful of the Indigenous lands on which such dreaming takes place. We could not have asked for a more thoughtful and community-oriented artist-activist to serve as our first Student Artist-in-Residence. We at the A/P/A Institute at NYU hope that you will join us in welcoming Snow who, through their art, envisions a future world with ample space for collective healing and growth.
Dean Saranillio, Interim Director
BETWEEN YOU & ME… A PORTAL TO THE FUTURE
Friday, October 1, 2021, 4:30-6:30 p.m. E.T.