Smithsonian Debuts ‘CrossLines: A Culture Lab’

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In Frank Chi’s film, Rep. Mike Honda listens as a Muslim American student reads a letter written by a Japanese American student incarcerated during World War II.

In Frank Chi’s film, Rep. Mike Honda listens as Zaid Syed, 11, reads a letter written in 1942 by Louise Ogawa, a Japanese American student incarcerated during World War II.

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center will debut “CrossLines: A Culture Lab on Intersectionality” at the historic Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building Saturday and Sunday, May 28–29, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Featuring the works of more than 40 artists, scholars and performers, “CrossLines” will host an array of art installations, live performances and interactive maker spaces.

This two-day event over the Memorial Day weekend marks the first time the Arts and Industries building has been open to the public since 2004. The building will host occasional pop-up exhibits and special programs for the public throughout the year. Beginning June 29, Arts and Industries will serve as the marketplace for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

“‘CrossLines’ will engage the public in a powerful experience that will illustrate the rich diversity of the Asian Pacific American story,” said Jeanny Kim, acting director of the Asian Pacific American Center. “This special ‘culture lab’ will show how these stories are threaded throughout the fabric of American life and how they intersect numerous categories of identity.”

Visitors will stroll through interconnected stalls showcasing visual and performance art, and can engage with both the art and the artists at a collective stage. Among the featured artists and performers are:

• A short film by Frank Chi featuring letters that young Japanese Americans in World War II incarceration camps sent to Clara Breed, a librarian in San Diego. Excerpts from the letters are read by contemporary Muslim American youth standing beside Japanese American camp survivors. The letters reveal connections between America’s past and present that alert us to the threat of the past repeating itself. To see the film, visit the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s Facebook page.

“Producing this video has been one of the great honors of my life,” said Chi. “It’s important that we bring together the collective experiences of communities who have been targeted in American history to make sure that 1) we never repeat the mistakes of the past, and 2) support each other through times of hate

“May is Asian American History Month, and we live in the age of intense Islamophobia. This video is for all Americans. But especially for Muslim children, who’re afraid that who they are will get them hurt. For Japanese Americans, who want to memorialize the experience of their families. And even for those who are inclined to vilify or hate. I hope this video reminds us that we are all human beings trying to do the best for our families.

“Thanks so much to Adriel Luis, Wajiha Akhtar-Khaleel, Awais Khaleel, Joan Haratani, Tod Hill, and the entire Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center team for helping me make this video happen.

“You can read more about the filmmaking process here: http://huff.to/1TVIvtg.”

"Shimomura Crossing the Delaware" by Roger Shimomura, one of the featured artists.

“Shimomura Crossing the Delaware” by Roger Shimomura, one of the featured artists.

• Artist Roger Shimomura, whose works are in 90 permanent collections nationwide, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery;

• Washington, D.C. artist SUPERWAXX, whose collective works are heavily influenced by popular culture and street art;

• Wooden Wave, a duo from Hawaii, who will create a participatory mural that serves as the entrance piece to “CrossLines”;

"Cat and Carm" by Shizu Saldamando, one of the L.A.-area artists whose works are featured.

“Cat and Carm” by Shizu Saldamando, one of the L.A.-area artists whose works are featured.

• An Oakland-based trio of artists, People’s Kitchen Collective, who will create a mock pharmacy counter and dispense edible “remedies” while inviting visitors to share stories of family remedies and communal healing practices;

• “Circles and Circuits,” an art projection installation featuring visual works by a range of Chinese Caribbean artists, presented by the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles.

For more information, go to http://smithsonianapa.org/crosslines.

“Rice Rocket of the Fast and the Furious” by Clement Hanami is among the works featured in “CrossLines.”

“Rice Rocket or the Fast and the Furious” by Clement Hanami, who will give a lowrider rickshaw demonstration.

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