Tag Archives: DePaul University

War Baby/Love Child comes to DPAM

30 Apr

Originally published in The DePaulia, April 29, 2013.

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Organizing curator Laura Kina leads a guided tour through the DPAM exhibit.

What are you? It’s a question people of mixed race have heard before, it’s a question without a very clear answer, but it’s also a question a new exhibit at the DePaul Art Museum is trying to answer.

War Baby/Love Child opened Thursday at the DePaul Art Museum and will run through June 30. The exhibit is co-curatedby Vincent DePaul Professor of Art, Media and Design Laura Kinaand San Francisco State University professor Wei Ming Dariotisand features the work of 19 artists, all of mixed race Asian-American descent.

The title for the exhibit, War Baby/Love Child, is a reference to a common stereotype regarding mixed race Asian Americans.

“I always wanted a t-shirt that said ‘War Baby’ on the front, and ‘Love Child’ on the back, because a lot of people would ask me, was your father in the military? Which is just a ridiculous question because we weren’t fighting a war in China in the late ’60s. But that image of the war baby is so strong, that that’s what people think of,” said Dariotis, who identifies as Greek, Swedish, English, Scottish, German, Dutch, Chinese-American.

The choice of title was controversial, with one gallery declining to show the exhibit because of the title.

“Art takes things that can be painful and transforms them into beautiful things,” said Dariotis. “We wanted to create something that people would be able to have not just an intellectual relationship with, but a passionate relationship.”

The exhibit features works from a variety of artistic styles and philosophies. One gallery features three works on similar subjects from very different perspectives.

Jenifer Wofford’s piece ‘MacArthur’s Nurses’ portrays a group of Filipino women walking through water. The piece references a staged photo of General Douglas MacArthur. Kip Fulbeck’s piece is a very straightforward photo portrait of a man, with the words “I am 100% Asian and 100% Black” written underneath in a rejection of the either/or mentality. Finally, a piece by Mequitta Ahuja features a woman’s head with a colorful explosion of culturally significant images emerging from it.

“So you see the three different approaches, one based on history and broader context , the self with a very straightforward portrait, and one that’s about the internal life,” said organizing curator Laura Kina.

For many of the artists, this exhibition is a unique experience.

“This is the first explicitly mixed race show I’ve been in, and it’s exciting,” said artist Chris Naka. “Being involved in this show makes me think about my own practice and how my identity and my work is affected by being mixed race”

For Native American and Korean-American artist Debra Yepa-Pappan, this exhibit is an opportunity to show her work in a new context.

“This is the first time I’ve displayed my work where the target audience wasn’t other Native Americans,” saidYepa-Pappan. “I’m really glad to see that I’m getting a lot of support from the Native American community. For those Native Americans that are mixed race, and a lot of them are, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to choose one side or the other. You don’t have to deny your non-native part.”

Kina is teaching an Honors Junior Multiculturalism Seminar at DePaul that explores the issues raised in this exhibit, guided by the accompanying book, which she and Dariotis co-wrote.

 “We’re always interested in a good hook in order to pose a question or make an argument through our exhibits,” said DePaul Art Museum Director Louise Lincoln. “And particularly with this show it’s good because it’s an extension of Laura’s teaching function.”

The museum will be hosting a variety of events to accompany the exhibit, including a screening of the film, “The Woman, The Orphan, and the Tiger” by Danish artist Jane Jin Kaisen Monday, April 29 from 6-8 p.m.

Hope for progress remains after devastating earthquake in China

29 Apr

Originally printed in The DePaulia, April 29, 2013

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Photo courtesy of AP

Lightning is not supposed to strike twice in the same place, but the same doesn’t go for earthquakes. A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit near the city of Ya’an in Sichuan province in central southwest China April 20, the same province where a 7.9 magnitude quake hit in 2008.

DePaul sophomore Yue ‘Ivy’ Li is from the city of Chengdu in theSichaun province. She was in middle school when the earthquake hit in 2008.

“We were ready to start class, and I was the person in charge of leading the songs, and while we were singing, that’s when it started shaking,” said Li.

Li’s mother came to pick her up from school, and instead of returning to their apartment in the city, they stayed in the suburbs, living in a makeshift tent for about a month.

“I hated living in the tent, but we were scared it was going to shake again,” said Li.

Their fears were not unfounded. A tectonic fault line runs through Sichaun province, making seismic activity a not an uncommon occurrence.

Li was in Chicago when the earthquake hit April 20. With phone lines down, she got in touch with her family using an instant messaging service.

“I wish I could have been with my family at that moment,” said Li. “Families take care of each other during hard times.”

Li’s family is unharmed, but wary of the dangers of future earthquakes.

“They’re staying in our apartment this time,” said Li. “But they’re worried anytime it shakes, that the house will fall down.”

The biggest difference between 2008 and 2013 is in the numbers. Most recent estimates place the death toll at about 200 for the April 20 earthquake, while the May 2008 event caused more than 70,000 deaths.

For Chinese students and faculty members studying and working at DePaul, another big difference between the two events was the increased role of social media in dispersing information about the quake in and outside of China.

China’s number one microblog sit, Weibo.com, has over 500 million users, roughly the equivalent of Twitter.Weibo has become an important source of information for many Chinese citizens as well as the Chinesediaspora.

“You can get first hand information from Weibo, from people who were affected by this disaster,” said Li Jin, Head of DePaul’s Chinese studies department. “Right now social media is really shaping the entire dynamic in China for people who are using the Internet.”

Weibo users face some of the same frustrations with social media in a time of crisis as users of sites like Twitter and Facebook faced in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“It’s really fast, so things spread immediately,” said Zhu ‘Summer’ Zhuquing, a first-year DePaul graduate student from Jiangsu province. “So there are many messages that are wrong.”

On the other hand, the Chinese media landscape is less diverse than that of the United States. State-run media generally dominates information distribution systems. However, the emergence of citizen journalism via social media is challenging China’s centralized media system.

“The Chinese government is really adept at censoring things,” said Jin. “People trust Weibo more than the government’s official media.”

Another big difference since 2008 is in how people have responded to the earthquake.

“We have experience now, so people can organize quickly,” said Zhuquing. “People know how to protect themselves, and how to react.”

“I think after the first earthquake they are more prepared,” said Jin. “They know now how serious these earthquakes can be,” Jin said.

Chinese students at DePaul raised $260 this week at an event for the DaringQ Foundation, a humanitarian organization that is fundraising for the victims of the earthquake. They are in the process of planning other events to raise money to support long-term rebuilding in Sichaun province.

“In the past, everyone was talking about moral decay in Chinese society, because of economic development and such a fast speed of social life, when a disaster happens,” said Jin. “It’s good to see that there’s still love, there’s still care between people. I want to say I feel warmed about this kind of compassion among Chinese people.”

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