Chinese-Australian sculptor NC Qin turns fragile glass into weapons and armour. Qin is petite, mighty, and determined. She believes weapons are elegant. Qinn’s art, which she describes as brute, is inspired by Chinese history, Greek mythology, and especially the bedtime stories her dad would share. She quickly became obsessed with kingdoms and heroes, but noticed that there’s always a flaw that causes the hero’s downfall. Qin began tying this into her practice as a sculptor by reflecting on her own flaw: pride. Though today Qin is known for sculpting glass, she first began sculpting with light in high school. She performs in 8200 kilos of glass and nothing else, even though it’s considered risqué to be nude in public. Rebellious and respectful, Qin explains working with a contradictory material like glass, both fragile and solid, can "reveal--and obscure" enough. She says the sensitivity and complexity of glass has taught her more about vulnerability, preciousness, and how to listen.
Satica Nhem is a singer/songwriter hailing from Long Beach, California. Growing up watching MTV, she didn’t see Asian-American artists that looked like her. Now she expresses herself through music while navigating and embracing her identity as a Cambodian-American. Satica was born to refugee parents who survived the Khmer Rouge and made a home in the US. She developed a love of music early in life, learning the guitar and writing poetry as an emotional outlet as a teen. She composed her first song at the age of 13. Her music reflects her life: her roots in the LBC and Cambodia, the strength and resiliency of her family, and overcoming traditional standards of beauty to embrace her own beauty.
“I wish they would portray me more as an artist,” says Nadi, a female tattooist and owner of Moon Blue Ink in Korea. Despite the negative stereotypes shown in Western media, Nadi is one of many young Koreans who have fully embraced tattoos, and is making them her own. From the first time she saw a tattoo by chance on the street, and saw how the drawing on the person’s body moved as they moved, she knew tattooing was her calling. But when she started, there were no apprenticeships or classes to take. She had to find tattoo artists and ask them to teach her. Her shop has now been open for 7 years, every day she explores her style while providing for her family. Now, she and her husband hope to expand Moon Blue to a location abroad. She hopes that it will help her son expand his horizons too.
When the government fails to protect, you turn to each other. This has always been the case, and in the 60s and 70s, the Asian civil rights movement was gaining momentum. Young Asian people were demanding equal rights, promoting anti-war and anti-imperialism during the Vietnam War, and building community with Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people of the United States. Since the Black civil rights campaigns that sparked the civil rights discourse, New Yorkers like Sunny Moy used his voice to fix issues in Chinatown. Sunny says that his era of civil rights protestors knew each other because there weren’t many Chinese Immigrants in Chinatown. When it comes to the difference between the 60s vs. now Sunny says, “We got more Asian kids who are highly educated, more than any other time in America. They should speak up more, and organize rallies.” Current day New York - Asians like Jack Lang and Oliver Pras are leading Stop Asian Hate rallies and redirecting politician’s attention to priorities Asian lives. Jack and Oliver felt that seeing Asian Hate crimes in their Chinatown - a safe haven for Asians- radicalized them. Young New Yorkers are banding once again to build a collective that won’t be overlooked by politicians that are supposed to be in their best interest.
Luciana Watanabe from Sao Paulo is a 16x Brazilian Sumô champion and a 2x world runner-up in the World Games. Luciana could be considered an unusual competitor, because in Japanese culture, women have long been banned from entering, or even touching, the wrestling ring. Luciana brings us into the world of Sumô in Brazil, which connects her as a mixed-raced Japanese-Brazilian to her Japanese roots. Sumô was introduced and practiced in Brazil when the first Japanese immigrants entered the country. Nowadays, 80% to 90% are Brazilians who practice Sumô at facilities like @Sumo_saopaulo . Luciana is challenging Sumô as one of Brazil’s first female rikishi. She will use Sumô to exchange cultures and teach Brazilians how to be warriors.
Huỳnh Thị Cẩm Tiên is the only African-Vietnamese to compete in a Miss Universe Vietnam Contest. During the competition, some praised her dark skin and mixed appearance, but viewers and judges also told her that she didn’t represent Vietnam because of her mixed-race identity. Despite the racist criticisms about how her skin color cannot represent Vietnam, she remained self confident during the competition and in doing so, found a way to bring Cameroonian culture and Vietnamese cultures together. When Tiên was younger, she would get tone-deaf comments from her friends about her curly hair and melanin skin. While Tiên experienced racism, her mother wanted Tiên to feel confident in her natural features by accepting herself. Her mother taught Tiên to stop seeking validation from others and to live a life that would build and prioritize her happiness. Tiên is currently a fashion designer making clothes so that people who wear her clothes can feel confident about who they are.