Creating Art with a Stranger

Painting of two people sitting at a table having coffee and chatting outside a library. One individual grasps a coffee cup with both hands, while the other leans back in a chair with a backpack at their feet. The library building has a “Welcome” sign on its doors and a bulletin board that reads “Newcomer Classes.” Just off to the side is a free Community Garden Veggies stand where a person is handing a basketful of veggies to an older woman with a cane. There is lush greenery in the background of this scene. The painting has an off-white border around it with the artist’s handle “@creation_wing” written on the bottom right corner. Alt-text written by United Aunties

Art created in Spring/Summer of 2021 as part of the Enveloped project by United Aunties.

I share this art as a reflection of the ideas and practice I want to bring in my career. I want my work to bring spaces of safety and community for all people, but especially those who have historically been marginalized and underrepresented, or otherwise undeserved in our current society.

After the first year of the pandemic, I heard about the Enveloped art project organized by United Aunties, a Vancouver Chinatown-based arts association created during the COVID-19 pandemic. The call for art went out to those in the Lower Mainland that channel the "auntie spirit of care, wisdom, skill + guts" (Twitter, 2021). While I am by no means a professional artist, I felt connection with the underlying theme of the art exchange and organization, and registered to participate.

Our theme: 𝗜𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱𝘀 𝗼𝗿 𝗘𝗿𝗮𝘀 (thinking of ideas around solidarity, nourishment, care, rest, transformation, ancestors and descendants, the land, the ‘year of the ox,’ for instance).

I was mailed instructions that I would be the Call in this art exchange. I brainstormed words, themes, and ideas that combined the values and ideas I was thinking about at the time with the theme of Imagining New Worlds or Eras. In the end, I settled on mutual aid and community care. I decided to depict a library as a public space where people could interact without the obligation of paying, with the added element of other forms of community engagement like a community garden giving out free vegetables and a poster advertising a program for immigrants. The characters shown show racial diversity, especially paying homage to my grandmother with the older lady with permed hair and a floral shirt. This imagined world is bright, and it's filled with smiles and a spirit of people working in tandem and in parallel. The art was done with a Sakura Pigma Micron finelliner and Crayola Supertip markers.

No photo description available.

Image from United Aunties; Response art by Judah Kong @mangosweet_tastybeats on Instagram

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