A new collection of art in Sunset Park shines a light on Asian-American/Pacific Islander artists, and aims to foster support for the AAPI community while raising awareness for relevant causes.
“Home is Inside You,” now on display at Industry City, features new solo mural installations by artists Jia Sung and Jocelyn Tsaih, along with existing installations by Amrita Marino, and several other artists.
The Collision Project, Industry City’s campus-wide arts initiative, plans to keep the installations up through the end of the year, while adding new artwork by AAPI artists along the way.
“The Collision Project is delighted to work with such a talented group of artists hailing from the AAPI community whose diverse body of work across mediums adds to the cultural vibrancy of the campus,” said Haoran Chen, associate, digital and creative at Industry City.
“In a way, each of these art installations is telling a unique story about the artist themselves and I think it’s important to understand the diversity within the AAPI community as well,” Chen told Brooklyn Paper.
Artist Amrita Marino connected the theme of “Home is Inside You” to her experience during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as her experience as a first-generation American.
During the height of COVID-19 in the US, Marino said she felt like a “small cog in the wheel,” and that most things were out of her control. “The best thing to do for my well being was to embrace my own inner life,” Marino said.
Immigrating to the US nearly 20 years ago, Marino compared the necessity of self-reliance as an immigrant to that of dealing with the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.
“It is common for immigrants to be the odd man out and there is a tendency to protect yourself and build a shelter, a net, or some way to comfort yourself from the constant feeling of not fitting in,” Marino said. “I am my own comfort. I am my inner home.”
Jocelyn Tsaih, a Taiwan-born, Shanghai-raised artist currently based in Oakland, California, said that her piece, “After the Rain” is about reconnecting within one’s community following the long period of isolation during the pandemic.
“For me because I come from multiple cultures and my concept of home is always shifting, a sense of community is my way of feeling like I have a home away from home,” Tsaih said. “I feel that cultivating a community and being with people you consider your chosen family — that is a very distinct feeling of home for me.”
Alongside their artwork, each artist in the series has selected a non-profit organization to support via signage placed near their respective pieces.
Tsaih chose to support Cut Fruit Collective, formerly known as Save Our Chinatowns, an organization she founded in March 2020 as a response to the devastating impact COVID-19 had on Chinatown communities in the Bay Area. The west-coast based organization focuses on supporting AAPI artists, activists, and investing in vulnerable AAPI communities.
“Cut Fruit Collective is refreshing, bringing a new voice and platform for different parts of the [AAPI] community and to different organizations,” Tsaih said.
Marino chose to support Sakhi NYC, a New York based non-profit focused on fighting domestic violence against South Asian women.
Sakhi had a personal resonance to Marino, as she described the pervasive culture of violence against women she experienced growing up in India. From the violent culture expressed in movies, to the warnings from her father not to “provoke” strangers for fear of having acid thrown at her, Marino said choosing Sakhi was a “gut-felt response.”
“This is something that I have never had to deal with myself but I know I lived in that culture and unfortunately violence against women is so pervasive even in America,” Marino said. “It just made sense from my background and how i grew up, to bring attention to domestic and sexual violence against women.”
In addition to bringing awareness to these organizations, Industry City will also be hosting a weekly fundraiser with each artist throughout June to support Heart of Dinner, an organization that focuses on delivering meals to the elderly Asian community. The fundraiser will be a donation-based raffle of a brown bag with artwork painted by the artist on it, hosted on the respective artist’s Instagram account.
Industry City’s AAPI art initiative was slated to launch for spring and summer of 2020, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. Following a year in which the AAPI community “has experienced a lot of pain, anger, sadness and disappointment,” Chen said that the community has grown stronger through these hardships and is “more united than ever.”
“In between terribly sad news about the community — I think it’s also important to remember celebrating the joy and beauty of the AAPI community as well and that is one of the messages I hope these art installations will send out,” Chen said.
Tsaih told Brooklyn Paper that she feels proud to be part of the AAPI community and to see other AAPI artists create “these amazing works of art.” “I hope that people can feel that we are a resilient community and that our artwork speaks to that,” she said.
“After going through so many tough emotions and so many difficult events over the past year and a half, I think it’s really important to see the other side of things — to celebrate our community, be joyful and understand that there is good with the bad,” Tsaih said, adding that she hopes her piece portrays that “there are two sides to everything” and that “lightness comes after darkness.
“I hope that this brings joy but also reinforces the lives of [our] community in the eyes of the people,” Marino said.