Jade Wave Rising Exhibit Demonstrates the Power and Beauty of Asian American Women

by Eddie Wong. Posted April 30, 2023

Jade Wave Rising: Portraits of Power curated by Yeu Q Nguyen is a powerful exhibit that offers a variety of creative expression in the visual and performance arts. This exhibit, presented by the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) and the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC), takes place at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco from April 28 to May 21, 2023.  It is part of  the 26th Annual United States of Asian America Festival.

At Jade Wave Rising’s opening reception on April 27, AAWAA Executive Director Diana Li explained the genesis of the exhibition in the context of anti-Asian American violence. “In January 2022, we started discussing the show with community members, ” said Diana Li. “This is after a year of seeing our bodies victimized in such violent ways. We really wanted Asian women power to come to the forefront and this is what the show is about.” Yeu Q Nguyen, the artist who curated this exhibition, explains her centerpiece work in the following video.

(Note: One correction on the video is that the interview following Yeu Q Nguyen is with Linda Ando, not Nancy Ando.)

The exhibition features artistic works in many forms: ceramics, photography, video, dance performance, poetry, paintings, installation art and sculpture.  The following photos are just a selection of works that caught my eye.  A great measure of enjoying an art exhibition is to absorb the many stylistic approaches and let the works sit with you.  Thus, I’ll enjoy returning to the exhibit and seeing the works from another perspective.  The closing reception on May 21 at 1 pm will also feature poetry reading by Rebecca Nice and Shizue Siegel followed by a screening of “Manilatown Manang,” a documentary on the life and times of I-Hotel Tenant Defender Jeanette Lazam.

“Cocoon,” sculpture by Ahn Lee. Photo by Eddie Wong.

As you enter the main gallery, “Cocoon” draws your attention radiating its energy throughout this corner of the exhibition. The light animates the spaces above and below and casts pools of energy to the nearby pieces.

 

Adjacent to “Cocoon” is a small ceramic  sculpture entitled “43 Miles” by Marisa Goudie.  Its intriguing design tells a multi-faceted story.

“43 Miles” by Marisa Goudie. Photo by Eddie Wong

Sansei Granddaughters’ Collective, a five-member female group of artists, collaborated on a mixed-media installation centered on Asian women and their stories. Their pieces fit together in a corner of the gallery with the large, hanging banners creating a warm enclosure of treasured memories and stories of unheralded women. Shari Arai DeBoer, Ellen Bepp, Reiko Fujii, Kathy Fujii-Oka, and Na Omi Shintani’s works resonate with love and admiration for the sheroes they celebrate.

“Women in Science” by Shari Arai DeBoer. Photo by Eddie Wong.

 

Hanging print honoring Brittany Yumiko, Kathy Fujii-Oka’s daughter. Photo by Eddie Wong.

 

“Power Can Be Quiet,” honoring Ellen Bepp’s mother. Photo by Eddie Wong.

Several other works intrigued me.

“Wide-Open Asian Eyes” by Lydia Nakashima Degarrod. Photo by Eddie Wong.

“Cosmic Scream Bowl,” by Kayla Tange. Photo by Eddie Wong.

 

“Benny as Garuda” by Nibha Akireddy. Photo by Eddie Wong.

A sacred spot in the exhibition is the altar room with installations by the Twin Walls Mural Company.

“From the Ashes of a Fiery Red Revolution Will Arise A Third World Phoenix ” by Twin Walls Mural Company.

 

Last but not least, we have “Lost Constellation (Part I and II),” a dance performance by IS/LAND Asian American Performance Collaborative from Ann Arbor, MI.  The first video gives background on the development of the work and the second video features dancers J Amber Kao and ciale with a poem written and performed by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang and a music score by Jienan Yuan.

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A 3-D virtual gallery will be available soon at SOMArts Gallery.

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Author’s Bio: Eddie Wong is a longtime cultural and political activist in the Asian American Movement. He is the editor/publisher of East Wind ezine.

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