Minorities are different in many distinct ways, and often people with majoritarian privilege do not know how to approach us. Their misgivings can give way to everything from uncomfortable experiences, micro-aggressions, and physical aggression, to violent crimes that stay with us for the rest of our lives. The participants in this installation bravely lent me their likeness and their stories to be shared with the world. These snippets of day-to-day life, put together in an image and a voice recording of their experiences in this installation, create awareness of the difficult moments we navigate as minorities, and propose a positive change in attitude toward us. I create these prints from a place of love.
“Counted/Uncounted: So You Know Us” is a collection of linoleum print portraits printed on Kozo paper. This collection portrays minorities living in the state of Michigan: immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, BIPOC, and disabled people. It also includes a professionally edited auditory component with the stories of the portrayed participants in a beautiful audio recording, a growing digital experience created by CultureVerse, and a collection of artbooks/paper sculptures that depict the stories of the participants in image and text.
“Counted/Uncounted: So You Know Us” is an ongoing project that keeps growing as I keep interviewing people and creating portraits for this collection with the support of the “City of Ann Arbor ARPA Arts + Creative Initiative For Youth, BIPOC, or Marginalized Population Fund”, Creative Washtenaw, Culture Source, and CultureVerse.
“Counted/Uncounted: So You Know Us” is a visibility project. It proposes a shift in mindset that will cause the viewer to recognize that minorities deserve respect and admiration. This recognition has the potential to be translated into real support of the minorities that share community with us. My goal is to create visibility of minority groups, and expand inclusivity in our community through advocacy and art activism.
“Counted/Uncounted: So You Know Us' ' also focuses on the strength and resilience of minority groups, specially immigrants, BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community, and disabled people through art. The project will promote a culture of healing, safety, empowerment, and awareness of minorities’ issues needed in these times. This collection of linoleum prints makes the viewer connect to the equal fellow humanity of these minorities who in the end are part of the people of Michigan.
A version of “Counted/Uncounted: So You Know Us” was on view for the first time at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts last summer as part of my solo exhibit, “To Practice Taking Root”. For its debut, this collection took center stage in the gallery space as the main installation. In order to make this collection available to everyone regardless of physical limitations, a virtual version of it is available as a digital experience at www.cultureverse.org.
This project is also a celebration of minorities bringing diversity into our communities. Each of us minorities bring something special to the community such as traditions, ancestral knowledge, or a different point of view that enriches everyone's day to day lives. It is my wish for minorities to feel visible and to be reassured they are an essential part of our community.
All these actions have the potential of propelling better social outcomes that are not limited to voting at the polls; for instance, they can also ripple into obtaining better representation of minorities in the places where we need them. The goal is for us to think about our strengths as a community and how we can raise each other into better positions socially, economically, and politically.
Why do I feel the need to create such an experience? I am the product of many migrations: my own migrations and generations of migrants before me. I was Chinese in Peru, Peruvian in Mexico, and Mexican in the USA. I am a person of color, Asian and Latina at the same time, as well as a naturalized American citizen. I know firsthand the struggles of belonging and being counted as part of a minoritarian group. I am choosing not to be a choiceless observer of the injustices and the invisibility that minorities experience in their daily lives. Carving these plates is a ritual of prayer and light, a space for making intentions for our communities' well being and for the life ahead of us.
I profoundly believe in art as a tool to create the social change that can lead us to thoughtful actions, and bettering ourselves and our communities.