FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2023
Contact: Kyung Jin Lee, [email protected]
AAPI Civic Engagement Fund Selects Five Accomplished Asian American and Pacific Islander American Artists for New Creative Catalyst Fellowship
Fellows will produce interdisciplinary art projects designed to mobilize the AAPI vote for 2024 elections
LOS ANGELES: The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund announced today the recipients of its Creative Catalyst Fellowship, which awards $30,000 to five artists to produce interdisciplinary art projects around critical issues impacting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and activate civic engagement in the 2024 general elections.
Fellows will create art that center one of three themes – Voting Together, Solidarity, and Belonging – in mediums that include short videos, music, poetry, and multimedia art. Beyond the artwork itself, all of the projects will be released in time to interact with their audiences through educational toolkits, family and community dialogue, and ultimately, direct participation in the 2024 elections.
“It is not an exaggeration to say the future of democracy in the United States hinges on what happens in the 2024 elections,” said EunSook Lee, Executive Director of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund. “We know the AAPI vote can make and break elections. Art and social change starts at the personal level and we are grateful that these phenomenal artists will be creating work that speaks to the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience today. The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund is committed to uplifting Asian American and Pacific Islander voices and look forward to partnering with these phenomenal artists to activate voters through art and culture.”
The five artists and their projects are:
- GB (Gia-Bao) Tran (Voting Together), a publishing cartoonist for 20 years, best known for his work Vietnamerica, a memoir of his family’s trauma, tragedy, and triumph as war refugees, will create a digital webcomic that will target the most ethnically diverse and second largest generational demographic in the United States: Gen Z.
- Lehuauakea (Belonging), a Native Hawaiian interdisciplinary artist and kapa maker from Pāpaʻikou, Hawaiʻi, with a particular focus on the labor-intensive making of kapa (traditional bark cloth), will create a series of 10-12 fine art illustrations and educational posters which include ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Native Hawaiian language), develop these into digital posters which will be shared free of charge with educators, and culminate the project with an empowering and inclusive gallery show.
- Kat Evasco (Voting Together), an award-winning writer, theater maker, filmmaker, and cultural strategist, is creating a scripted short comedic film entitled Get Your Tita that tells the story of a Filipino American family coming together for the very first time to review and discuss ballot measures and candidates prior to the upcoming election.
- Safwat Saleem (Belonging), a multidisciplinary artist working to give visibility to Asian American and immigrant narratives, with a focus on cultural loss resulting from assimilation, will create the multimedia project, Anxieties of an Immigrant Father, which includes unique charts that map Safwat’s anxieties as an Asian American and immigrant father, drawings that chart the anxieties contributed by the larger AAPI community, and an audio component about the community’s anxieties going into an election year.
- Sonny K. Mehta (Solidarity), a Houston-based musician and founder of Riyaaz Qawwali who performs folk music rooted in South Asian traditions, will collaborate with Aris Kian Brown to create videos that showcase the shared experiences of Asian American and Black communities; a visually compelling piece of artwork integrating poetry in both English and Urdu/Hindi; and an educational toolkit, facilitating critical conversations about solidarity, anti-Blackness, and allyship.
Past projects in similar programs of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund include The ABCs of AAPI Coloring Book by the Asian American Advocacy Fund in Georgia; the South Asian American Digital Archive’s anthology, Our Stories: An Introduction to South Asian America; and VietLead’s documentary film, Taking Root, which premiered in June of 2023 at Tribeca Film Festival in Philadelphia.
The Creative Catalyst Fellowship projects are scheduled to be completed by April 2024.
ABOUT THE AAPI CIVIC ENGAGEMENT FUND
The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund is one of the largest funders of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) movement building organizations and the only one of its kind that focuses investment in state and local organizations doing on-the-ground work. The AAPI Fund’s mission is to foster a culture of civic participation in AAPI communities through grantmaking, building movement capacity, and conducting research. The AAPI Fund’s grantees serve over 50 ethnic groups and constituencies that include women, youth, seniors, multi-stat us immigrants and families and low-income, queer and trans, and faith-based communities. Over ninety percent of the groups are led by AAPI women. For more info: https://aapifund.org/