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APAture 2022 Festival Showcases Rising Asian American and Pacific Islander Art Talent

APAture 2022: Autonomy kicked off with a visual arts showcase and opening reception on October 8, 2022 at Arc Gallery & Studios in San Francsico. Photo: Claire S. Burke

Kearny Street Workshop, the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States, continued its 50th-anniversary celebration with APAture, an annual arts festival featuring the work of emerging artists from across disciplines.

This year’s theme was Autonomy — how to find autonomy in one’s art and practices and ensure autonomy in spaces that often minimize the experiences and overall existence of Asian Pacific Americans.

“The nice thing about APAture is that it pushes you to expand your own interests and be open to others,” said Mark Flores, a literary arts planning committee member for APAture. “How are we sitting in our own power and building community? How do we be mindful of creating art for ourselves? APAture gives us the freedom to create things that matter to us, and not what other people think matters to us.”

Jasmine Liang, a member of the visual arts planning committee, hopes audiences gain new perspectives of what autonomy can look like visually for different Asian American and Pacific Islander people.

APAture festivities took place throughout San Francisco, including Arc Gallery & Studios, Kapwa Gardens, and Roxie Theater. The month-long celebration showcased artists in music, film, and the visual, literary, and performing arts.

Featured visual artist Heesoo Kwon shared her project at the opening reception on Oct. 8, a video piece called Leymusoom Bridge that reimagined the gallery building and the Chinatown neighborhood within the Leymusoom world. Leymusoom is an autobiographical feminist religion Kwon initiated in 2017. It is named after 무성별(無性別), which refers to agender in Korean.

“I started Leymusoom as my personal resistance against misogyny and patriarchy,” Kwon said. “‘Leymusoom Bridge’ becomes a new portal for hyperspace travel to meet my family and realize the utopian world that I am envisioning.”

On Oct. 15, Kapwa Gardens hosted the Music, Performing Arts, Comics, Zines, and Illustrations Showcase, featuring saxophone player and Balikbayan member Rocky G, Erin Lee, Mr. Bub, annamacan, and mayx. The following week was the film showcase at Roxie Theater which included screenings of Pallavi Somusetty’s “Coach Emily” and “Escaping Agra.”

“Coach Emily” follows Emily Taylor, an Oakland-based Black rock climbing coach, and her Brown Girls Climbing program. Emily supports her students of young girls as they battle racial discrimination and find their place in the outdoors.

“Primarily, I see myself as a portraitist. I like to get pretty intimate with people and the community. The way into community stories is through intimate stories of its people,” Somusetty said.

The literary arts showcase, curated by Mark Flores, Paula Mirando, Lucie Pereira, Want Chyi, Jingyu Li, was held on Oct. 28 at Arc Gallery & Studios. Among the poets who recited their work was Christine No.

“My work historically has been a lot about identity but more so coming-of-age and discovering and rediscovering self and identity and what that means in relationship to race and family and ideas of home,” No said.

APAture 2022 concluded on Oct. 30 with a closing reception and visual artists talk at Arc Gallery & Studios. Featured artists included Heesoo Kwon, Nibha Akireddy, Juke Jose, Midori, Jane Kang, Kim Requesto, Takahiro Okubo, Ximaps Dong, Marlene Yee, Wednesday de Guzman, Yoezung.

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