Monday, January 23, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Private Danny Chen news coverage

Dear Artists and Friends,

Each of the coverage below reflects a different way each media outlet has chosen to make this story of an Asian American soldier public.  A change is underway in how much audiences are encouraged to sympathize with Asian people, their faces, their stories, even their community.  Perhaps the last story of its kind was over twenty years ago when the film Who Killed Vincent Chin by Christine Choy came out, the impact generated a new generation determined to defend and advocate for Asian Americans and their communities. 

AAAC invites you to look closely at this story as it unfolds in the media.  Where will it lead and what will it
mean for the next generation of Americans - Asian Pacific Americans, Americans of every background - a multicultural diverse multitude.  AAAC invites artists to create art work on any facet of this, however you view this in relation to the art you do.  For those who do figurative work, we invite you to do portraits of Danny Chen, however you conceive of what portraiture is. 

AAAC will make a separate place on its blog for this subject so that those interested in writing on this subject can be posted and a useful dialogue can ensue. AAAC will appreciate particularly those written pieces or comments on the human implications, the cultural side of this story.  Here is a young person who does not fit the Model Minority Myth.  It is a chance to sketch in for Americans who we really are and undo some at least of all that separates us.  The media too is also part of this subject, open to praise as well as critique.

AAAC has expanded its online capacity and will do what is possible for the public to see and contemplate what is created.  It is too early at this point to talk of exhibition sites and dates, collaborations or art proposals.  That will have to come in time.  We are interested in those artists who want to get together, even if it has to be only for those in the NYC area, or a conference call to bring together voices over a broader geographic area. This is a moment for all artists, of every background, for all of us to be seen in a new light. There is much to talk about culturally, politically, artistically.  We may be able to intro those interested who live in the same city so conversations can start elsewhere. 

The military culture that our civic life in the USA is so depended on is also not exempt from a critical cultural perspective, how it ties into who we are as people. 

Asian Americans have a role in what this land will become.  When I heard Danny's mom tremble as she spoke, she filled the silence in the room at CCBA with what was nearly tangible. Then later I saw how media sought to avoid or capture this. It was clear then, Art and Artists have something to say.  

I look forward to hearing from you.


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Saturday, January 7, 2012
Rinku Sen Workshop

Interactive Organizers Workshop led by Rinku Sen, Executive Director of the Applied Research Center, focused on developing a racial justice framework and building multiracial alliances within the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

On December 14th. A long awaited, major event supported by PoC was held at the Spokes Council and billed as a special training event to provide OWS activists with a racial justice lens as a frame for organizing in the future. This was the key speaker and organizer of the event, Rinku Sen, Executive Director of the Applied Research Center, focused on developing a racial justice framework and building multiracial alliances within the Occupy Wall Street movement. There were over 400 people in attendance. She and her partner presented very concise ideas and the room broke up a couple of times into small discussion groups.

This workshop will probably be repeated, because it is very much needed to expand on the ideas that wee presented. Currently, the issues of the role of people of color and the decades of experience that they have as communities that have been exploited has yet to evolve the role that they need to play in OWS. Clearly, 99% indicates the major message that OWS has succeeded in getting the message across about economic inequality, but it does not reflect the racial question nor the tradition of the superiority of white civilization. The functioning mechanisms of OWS are deeply involved in this question so that it can reflect a new vision of people of color, their culture, and their place in American society.

Audience members at Rinku Sen workshop. Held at the Winston Unity Hall at 23rd St.

Enthusiastic audience members during the workshop.

Questions about Organizers Workshop
Nayantara Sen, Associate Trainer:
POCcupy Your Block:

More Information
Rinku Sen & OWS visit and
Applied Research Center visit and
Occupy Your Block visit
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Duarte Park’s Japanese drummers December 17th. On this day, OWS attempted to occupy Duarte Park on Canal St, between 6th and 7th Ave. It was an amazing celebration of the three-month anniversary of this incredible global movement. Right near Canal St was a group of Japanese drummers, which appeared to be related to Buddhist tradition.

This property is owned by Trinity Church and they have made an agreement with LMCC to allow certain cultural activities to take place there when the weather is cooperative. Although the church says that it is supportive of raising awareness of issues that are affecting the quality of lives and the efforts of OWS, it was not able to support OWS by allowing demonstrators to use the land. Neither Trinity Church nor LMCC would return our calls. During the celebration to mark this anniversary and to indicate how important the occupation of land is to OWS, people started to climb over the fence and even had a hand-made ladder to do so. Police were standing on a truck and videotaped everybody. When they started to arrest people, only a few people stayed to be arrested, including a cardinal, two ministers, and an internationally known peace activist.
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Monday, January 2, 2012
March and Vigil for Danny Chen

Banner that we created with the support of OWS. This march started on 143 Chambers St. The whole family was standing in front of an army recruiting facility, each holding a sign, with Danny’s mother holding his picture. It was extremely crowded and the organizers tried to keep everybody off the street and on the sidewalk, with a path for pedestrians. There were a lot of reporters and cameras.

(If you don't know what happened to Danny Chen, click here)

As the march began, the organizers had the family at the front of the march with all of us following them. The media and the organizers tried to create room for the family to start the march and proceed. At the same time, there was a lot of documentation by photographers and video recorders.
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Art Cart and Artists Updates

China Marks is an artist that AAAC has both exhibited and featured on our website. She is significantly influenced by Asian styles and has been chosen by a program called Art Cart, a program of Teachers College, Columbia University, connects aging professional visual artists with teams of graduate fellows to undertake the preparation and preservation of their creative work.  China is one among seven or eight artists this year in this program.

Joan Jeffri initiated this program and has been a long time art advocate, gathering data from all over, to create studies that get funders to focus in on what they need to do.

In September, a reception was held in honor of Keung Szeto, who passed away recently. Originally from Taiwan, he has been a highly successful photo-realist painter in New York for many years. An extensive slideshow documenting his life, family, and friends, and many of his artworks was presented here.

Here, we are only showing two images—a couple of portraits, though many have been taken over his lifetime which speak volumes of his accomplishments and character.

Faith Ringgold and her manager, Grace Yun, at the opening reception of the Metropolitan Museum on September 9th. She was exhibited at an exhibition at the center called “Ancestors” which brought together Asian and African Americans, many of whom were biracial. The exhibition brought together historical facts about the relationship between these two races in the US. She has a foundation working with young children to give them the opportunity to create piece-quilts. Managed by Grace Yun, this organization is called “Interracial Collaboration.”

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The last time that "Occupy Wall Street With Peace" banner was held, on December 3rd. Every Saturday at 2:00 for about five to six weeks, this banner was a site for the development of an Asian presence at Zucotti Park. This was the last time the banner was present there. The woman in the wheelchair is from West Virginia and she traveled to New York City to visit her friend (in blue). She sang me two Irish songs—which were so lovely and truly showed how spontaneous she was—one of her songs was both very funny and highly political. She was quite a woman.  Keeping the banner there has enabled me to meet so many amazing people. It has been quite an experience and also a privilege. 

General Assembly held in Zuccotti park on December 1st. This is an example of the general assembly, usually held in the park. Some meetings have better attendance than others.

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Meeting on November 18th. Occupy Wall Street has developed an additional organizational structure called “The Spokes Council,” and because the general assembly—the major entity by which OWS functions—cannot do everything in a timely manner (too many meetings, not everyone can attend), this council has reps from every group under OWS. Currently, there are over 135 groups, with each group identifying their spokesperson. There are certain rules mandating that spokespeople must change for every few meetings so more people have an opportunity. However, other people from the group are encouraged to come with the spokes to these meetings—three to four times a week. Additionally, every group might have any number of sub-groups—fifteen sub-groups are not unusual. This is just an idea of how extensive OWS is!

Civil Rights Elders share torch on November 20th. On this day, an organization of civil rights elders came to OWS in solidarity, voicing that they did not want to pass the torch—but rather share it—with OWS. A large gathering of people attended the events that day. They were enthusiastic to be mentored by these leaders who had accomplished so much and had so much experience with grassroots organizing. These civil rights leaders were also people of color, showing the transition that OWS is going through in understanding the importance of the inclusion of people of color. The speakers at the moment are the two individuals in the far center of the picture, the woman in red and the man in white.  

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Protestors were forced to leave Foley Square on the night of November 15th.
I received a text message at around 1:15 saying that it’s an emergency and that the park was being raided by the police. Living in Chinatown, I did not know what to do. It took me a while to come to my senses and e-mail the press and anyone I could to let them know this was happening.  I finally got out of the house around an hour afterwards and biked down Worth St. and immediately saw that it was blocked around Centre St by a squadron of about twenty-five police vans, their red lights all on as if an extraterrestial had landed. I turned around and went and went another route to get into Foley Square, only to see that a lot of people had been marched from Zucotti to Foley Square. By the time I took this picture,a  lot of people had been led away and only the cops had been standing there. From here, I tried to get closer to the park.

Here is a sign that is the favorite of Naomi Klein, who mentioned this when she was interviewed on WNYC by Brian Laer (?). It is because of this and other indicators that she realized that this is not simply another movement, but something much more fundamental than that—recognizing and seeing the shift in culture that is taking place.
Having taken pictures of many signs during many evenings over many days, I finally came across this one. It was created by an Asian American— a Filipino fireman who lives in Brooklyn. This phrase is written on both sides of his poster and he carries it around on his bicycle. It struck me that a) he’s an Asian American and b) that he’s a fireman, a member of a team that sacrificed so much ten years ago.

These OWS demonstrators had been cornered by the police and were shouting slogans every once in a while. It was pretty hard to get anywhere near this whole area.
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