We Imagine Sanctuary : A Mural and Sound Installation (February 25-May 10, 2019)

Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Gallery
8 Washington Mews
On view: Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.*
Opening reception: Thursday, March 7, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

Muralist and poet Jess X. Snow and A/P/A Institute at NYU Artist-in-Residence Ushka (Thanushka Yakupitiyage) collaborated with NYU students to create a mural and sound installation that articulates migrant, queer, diasporic, and Indigenous ideas of sanctuary. Drawing inspiration from the migratory journeys of the natural world and the power of collective imagination, We Imagine Sanctuary is a space in which one can reflect, organize, and envision a future free of borders, family separation, and forced migration.

The opening reception will take place on Thursday, March 7, 2019 as part of the symposium, “Offering Refuge, Building Solidarity: Universities as Sanctuaries.”

To arrange for a class or group visit to the gallery, please email apa.rsvp@nyu.edu with your preferred visit dates and times, and the size of your group.

Note on accessibility: This venue has an elevator and is accessible for wheelchair users. Restrooms are single-stall, and all gender. If you need any accommodations, please email apa.rsvp@nyu.edu.

*Gallery hours are subject to change. The gallery will close at 2:00 p.m. on the following dates: Monday, March 25; Wednesday, April 17; Wednesday, April 24; Thursday, April 25; Monday, April 29; Thursday May 2.

Download the transcript for the sound in We Imagine Sanctuary.

About the Artists

Jess X. Snow
 is a queer migrant asian-canadian filmmaker, public artist, and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is currently studying directing at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She uses magical realism, mythology, and science fiction as tools to explore what care for the body and land can look like in the queer migrant future. In her work, after assault and trauma, her characters develop abilities to teleport, cross borders, regenerate, and heal themselves and the planet. Her film and VR work has been supported with grants and fellowships from the Tribeca Film Institute, and commissioned by Adobe and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center. Her public art and political graphics have appeared on PBS Newshour, the Los Angeles Times, the Women’s March on Washington, NBC Asian America, in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, and outdoor walls across the country. Her poetry has appeared in the Offing, Margins, and the anthologies: Bettering American Poetry and Nepantla: An Anthology of Queer Poets of Color. She illustrated the children’s book Black Girl Magic (Macmillan USA, 2018) by Mahogany L. Browne,  and cover art for Yale University Press, YesYes Books, and Black Girl Dangerous Press, among others. She is a member of the Justseeds Artists Co-operative and a teaching artist who has worked with previously incarcerated families, migrant and Indigenous youth communities, and students of all ages to speak their truth with poetry and transcend trauma with large-scale mural making.

As a filmmaker, she directed Afterearth (2017), an immersive documentary about four women of color fighting to preserve the volcano, ocean, land, and air for future generations. Afterearth is winner of Best Experimental Short Award at the Philly Asian American Film Festival and has screened as part of the official selection of Outfest Fusion, CAAMfest, Asian American International Film Festival, and the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. Snow is also the director of the short Safe Among Stars (2018), a narrative about a queer immigrant Asian woman’s journey of healing from sexual assault through harnessing her ability to teleport. Snow is currently the creative director of Survivor Love Letter, an augmented reality mural project, forthcoming VR meditation experience, and social movement calling survivors of sexual assault and their allies to publicly celebrate their lives.

Ushka (Thanushka Yakupitiyage) is a Sri Lankan-born, Thailand-raised, Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist, cultural producer, activist, and DJ who performs under the name Ushka. Her professional, political, and artistic interests focus on (im)migration. She uses writing, video, music, and audio to explore the everyday lives of brown and black communities from the Global South to the West. Yakupitiyage has worked as a storyteller and organizer in the immigrant rights movement for a decade and now does intersectional work in climate justice. As a DJ, she’s known for her genre-blending style across electronic club and bass music that deliberately traverses borders, creating soundscapes that reflect the immigrant experience in global migrant cities. Since 2013, Ushka has thrown a QT/POC and immigrant-centered global club party called iBomba. She has performed at venues including the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, American Museum of Natural History, Rubin Museum of Art, Queens Museum, and Harbourfront Center Toronto. She uses DJing and cultural organizing as a means of crafting intentional spaces and fostering community building. She works and performs with a wide community of DJs and producers with the philosophy that artistic and cultural production, at its best, is a collaborative process. She holds degrees from Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the 2018-19 A/P/A Institute at NYU Artist-in-Residence. You can find her work at thanushka.com, and on social media at @ty_ushka


Opening Reception for We Imagine Sanctuary
Thursday, March 7, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Dreaming Our Futures: A Transnational Asian Feminisms Gathering
Wednesday, March 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Migrant & Indigenous Sanctuaries: An Evening of Film & Music
Monday, April 29, 2019, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Postcolonial, Race, and Diaspora Studies Colloquium Reception
Friday, May 10, 2019, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

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