“Finding ‘a place of your own’ demands much self-reflection. It’s not just a matter of asking what you want, but rather letting go of external influences and discovering what remains. It could prove to be a very spiritual process.”
Nancy Hom, San Francisco Artist and Activist
In A Place of Her Own, an ongoing project of the Asian American Women Artists Association, Asian women create visual art in response to the question, “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?
What happens when we look beyond the concept of a room and discover a space that is fully expresses a woman’s imagination and values?”
Since 2009 forty-three women artists have grappled with these questions, and their responses have resulted in thought-provoking exhibitions at the de Young Museum, Driftwood Salon Gallery and SOMarts Cultural Center.
The conceptual framework and long term goal of this project is to generate a creative place for women to reconnect with themselves and make their aspirations visible. (For more AAWAA pictures on Flickr, click here>>
For the Harmony Project, AAWAA partnered with a women’s center and used the A Place of Her Own questions and methodology to create a healing exercise for non-artist Asian-American women trauma survivors. This 3-month program was the first time AAWAA had partnered with a social service program, and it was a deeply moving experience for everyone involved. Three teaching artists worked with the participants in a series of weekly workshops that culminated in an open house/exhibit on November 13, 2011.
Images from the November 2011 Open House
By encouraging women to reflect on their own identity and to express it artistically, A Place of Her Own offered the participants a creative process for empowerment. The women learned to hear their intuition and define a strong point of confidence, enhancing their ability to relate to the world on their own terms.
The A Place of Her Own Social Service Initiative is innovative both for AAWAA and its partners. In recent years AAWAA has been steadily evolving as an organization that promotes Asian-American women artists through art exhibitions that directly address women’s issues. AAWAA has offered provocative exhibitions and publications, panel discussions, lectures, and readings that demonstrate the power of Asian American women artists.
AAWAA’s partnership with a social service organization is a natural extension of A Place of Her Own because it furthers AAWAA’s goal of finding ways to use Asian American women’s art to benefit all women.
AAWAA’s ultimate goal is to offer a new system of arts resources to help build strong, self-aware women who can be leaders in their communities. A Place of Her Own is a powerful, interactive tool for women to heal and developing self-esteem through a combination of the arts, social justice awareness, and cross-agency partnerships.
Whether it is through workshops, artistic endeavors, lectures, panel discussions, online interactions or face-to-face, A Place of Her Own inspires critical thinking and provides confidence-building tools while developing community in a safe and secure environment.
Cheers to Muses
Asian American Women Artists Association has published a book called “Cheers to Muses” which can be purchased here>> The anthology features 64 contemporary artists ranging in age from 14 to 85 and 77 works of visual and literary art, showcasing the broad range of talent among Asian American women.
What distinguishes this unique anthology from many others are the moving dedications, written by the contributors, to non-familial Asian American women whose lives or works have influenced and inspired their own. These heartfelt affirmations are a testament to the powerful influence these muses have had on the artists and writers, and remind us that we are part of a continuum of the Asian American woman’s struggle for independence and creative freedom.