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AAPI: Meet The Artists

Art At Work :AAPI & Mental Health

Meet The Artists

Art At Work: AAPI

At Wondery, we want it to be clear that we empower ALL women in the outdoors. As an Asian-owned and ran business, we are more than disheartened by the recent acts of discrimination towards the AAPI community. Due to recent events, we felt motivated to create a powerful collection of empowering pieces to not only showcase our support of the AAPI community, but to tie together how these acts of discrimination can play a detrimental role on mental health. We’ve partnered with three fantastic, Asian artists to showcase the strength, beauty, and resilience of the AAPI community. We are thrilled to introduce you to the artists behind this collection: Jasmine, Kelley, and Renee.

At Wondery, we want it to be clear that we empower ALL women in the outdoors. As an Asian-owned and run business, we are more than disheartened by the recent acts of discrimination towards the AAPI community. Due to recent events, we felt motivated to create a powerful collection of empowering pieces to not only showcase our support of the AAPI community, but to tie together how these acts of discrimination can play a detrimental role on mental health. We’ve partnered with three fantastic, Asian artists to showcase the strength, beauty, and resilience of the AAPI community. We are thrilled to introduce you to the artists behind this collection: Jasmine, Kelley, and Renee.

"I have been creating art all my life. However, it was not until the start of the pandemic did I start sharing my designs online. To stand up and speak up empowers me to create. Because through art, I amplify my voice."

"I was always crafty when I was younger. I was always drawing or doing something artsy. But there was a turning point in high school when I took a class on digital media. I was able to learn how to design and I submitted a design on Snapchat which was accepted. It became a permanent geo-tag sticker for my High School. I got the confidence that my art could be more than a hobby and kept practicing more."

"I love film and the art of storytelling through motion. Watching movies made me want to create art as more than a hobby."

What is the meaning of the art you’ve created in partnership with Wondery?

Jasmine: Growing up, Asian Americans were often portrayed in mainstream media as the nerd or the comedic relief—the token character. But, with Wondery, Boba Guys, and the growing representation in Hollywood; to finally see and embrace my heritage as it is and not as it is perceived to be has been an endless source of joy and wonder. Fueled by passion and filled with love for my heritage, I hope that my art pieces are a reminder that you matter, you are one of a kind, and you are blooming with grace.

 

Kelley: In the Chinese/Vietnamese culture, there is a lot of symbolism and myths that correlate with an animal or item. In a few of the designs I have done with this collection, there is a lot of nostalgia that I feel. The designs remind me of Lunar New Year where all my family comes together and creates good memories. This is something that I've grown up with and a tradition that started before I was even born. Like I said before, there is a lot of symbolism, which I love. I try to include elements that symbolize luck in my designs. During the New Year, specifically Lunar New Year, everyone is always wishing health, prosperity, and wealth on each other. So through my designs, I want to wish luck upon those who wear them. Kind of like a lucky charm.


Renee: Growing up as a first-generation Chinese American, I was always connected to my Chinese zodiac, the dragon. Dragons are found in many aspects of Chinese culture from festivals to astrology.

Where do you find your greatest source of inspiration for creating your art?

Jasmine: Being a Chinese woman, illustrating topics related to women’s rights and the AAPI community have always been the greatest source of inspiration. However, my art does not just represent me. My art represents the people I know and the people I see. I am constantly inspired by the strong and fierce women around me. At the end of the day, my art is a product of my experiences, relationships, and community.

 

Kelley: The source of inspiration for my designs depends on what I'm trying to accomplish. For the AAPI AAW collection, I drew a lot of inspiration from my own experience in my culture. What I observed and see as important in that aspect of my life I took to the drawing boards and applied my style to it.

 

Renee: A big source of inspiration for creating art are the people I surround myself with. I love having conversations about ideas for what to create next. I also love collecting random art books and zines so those are very inspirational to me too.

This Art at Work collection is incredibly meaningful, how did you capture the importance of supporting the AAPI community through your work?

Jasmine: To be Asian American encompasses a vast range of experiences. I hope to create an awareness of how diverse our realities are across class, generation, and immigration. For many, talking about race can be quite uncomfortable. Using my art as a platform, I hope that my designs resonate with the AAPI community and spark dialogue with those who may not be Asian—creating a space for cultural humility and compassion.

 

Kelley: Over the past couple of months, the AAPI community has been through a lot. The AAPI has so many different cultures that all have important aspects that might not be widely known. It's difficult to hear from others when they say "all Asians are the same" and they group the entire community together when each culture is different. We're not all the same. We are different. I want to showcase different elements and have them all be appreciated.


Renee: The dragon symbolizes luck, nobility, and success; something we all need this year! The dragon is so prominent in many East Asian cultures. I hope that the community could find a bit of themselves in the dragon.

With this launch coinciding with Mental Health Awareness month, do you feel even more obligated to raise awareness for recent discrimination aimed towards the AAPI community?

Jasmine: At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember hearing about an elderly woman being attacked down the street from my grandparent’s house in San Francisco. I felt sad, angry, and powerless.

Whether it happens in your community or not, even just watching the news reports about these events can evoke the strongest emotions. Hate crimes do not only target an individual but also send messages to an entire community that we are unsafe and unwelcome. This racial trauma, compounded with the mental stigma in the AAPI community, has real physical and psychological consequences.

With both Mental Health Awareness and AAPI Heritage month coinciding in May, it’s so important to protect our peace. My grandma always preached, “You can’t control everything. You can only control how you respond.” We can feel anger and pain, believe in love, and still speak out without allowing perpetrators of hate to dictate our lives. Because our peace is affirming that we belong here. Our peace resists hate. Our peace is honoring our humanity.



Kelley: It's been so very difficult to deal with the recent discrimination. It hurts to hear my grandparents tell me "Kelley, be careful when you go in public. Americans don't like us right now." I have to respond with, "No Grandma, YOU be careful. You are more vulnerable." It's been frustrating and scary. Sadly, I'm not the only one feeling this way. With the violence and news that has come out, there is a need for everyone to take a step back and consider the information taking a toll on one's mental health. Especially in the older Asian community, there is a stigma that mental health isn't important. It needs to be normalized rather than suppressed.


Renee: Growing up, mental health was never really talked about in my family. Asian Americans tend to hold emotions in and not reach out for help. This ties back to the stereotype that Asians are quiet and reserved. I hope this collection opens up a conversation about racial biases among the community.

How do you hope that your art inspires change within our society?

Jasmine: Change in society starts within us. We have to expand our self-awareness before we can change the way we live and the way society works. Art has a unique ability to break barriers in our hearts and challenge us to question our own thoughts. Perhaps, what makes art so unique is that it tells stories—a pathway for us to imagine a new reality free of injustice and inequality. Because the value of art stems from its potential for questioning, challenging, and connecting. To learn and feel a person’s story through art can circumnavigate ignorance that pushes empathy away. As an artist, I hope to draw thoughts and feelings that are difficult to conceptualize into tangible and empathic illustrations. Often, the impact of art is not as grand as “inspiring change within our society” but instead, showing that we are all capable of change.

 

Kelley: I hope that there is an appreciation for the AAPI Community. We are all different and have so many beautiful things to appreciate. I can't put every single beautiful thing each AAPI culture has, but there is an optimistic side of me that sees someone appreciating a design and will take it upon themselves to learn more about the culture.


Renee: I hope more people read and learn about AAPI culture because there’s so much to it!

What advice do you have for other aspiring artists?

Jasmine: Growing up, I would watch activists and artists alike change minds and move hearts through their words, thoughts, and colors. I was in absolute awe. However, I discovered all it takes is compassion to understand, courage to create, and persistence to share your truth with the world.

In an increasingly connected world, where hate seems to have no end, compassion is a compass—a way to center your art on humanizing and inspiring change. Your creativity has the power to transform your community into a safe space where people feel they belong. That very feeling is what gives me the courage to illustrate my truth. Being able to empower people has always been my goal, and I get to live out my passion daily.

I hope that my words resonate with you--that your journey and your art are authentic, beautiful, and one of a kind.

 

Kelley: Take risks, try everything, and appreciate your own art. I went through a phase of hating change. I wanted to just design in a way that I was most comfortable with. But I pushed myself to switch up my style, try something new. I found something I really enjoyed. Art is supposed to be fun and expressive, so have fun with it.

 

Renee: To young artists, I would say to have fun and try everything. I found my niche when I joined my college radio as a DJ. Before, I didn’t know anything about the industry and was super scared talking in front of people.

This new line of our Art at Work collection perfectly captures the love we share for all women in our ever-growing community. We are so excited and honored to be able to share that love with you, and hope that this collection shines a light on the dark areas of society. 5% of the proceeds from this collection will be donated to an AAPI nonprofit. We thank you for your continued support of our mission as well as your help in supporting the AAPI community.

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