‘Agrarianaa’ to Open at SOMArts Cultural Center

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Portion of Reiko Fujii’s “Egg House Wall” (2004).

SAN FRANCISCO — “Agrarianaa: Art Inspired by APA Agricultural Roots,” a multimedia exhibition featuring 25 artists and farmers rooted in the rich history of Asian Pacific American agricultural crafts, legacies and present-day community, opens Thursday, May 2, at 6 p.m. and runs until May 23 at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St. in San Francisco.

A sister project to “Agrarianaa” at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, “Agrarianaa” at SOMArts Cultural Center features artists reflecting on ancestral farming and gardening practices, addressing topics such as migrant labor, environmental activism, land and food sovereignty. Works include installations mapping out food ways, hand-dyed textiles woven from the spiritual cultivation of the earth, grassroots solidarity among the United Farm Workers movement, and more.

Presented by the Asian American Women Artists Association and API Cultural Center- San Francisco, the opening is also the kick-off to the United States of Asian America Festival 2019, featuring a performance by Patricia Ong and Roseli Ilano, chants from the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee facilitated by Julio Magaña, and a Pop-Up Shop with affordable artwork by “Agrarianaa” artists.

Featured artists include:

• Eryn Kimura (http://erynkimura.com), a self-taught visual artist, teacher, facilitator and fifth-generation Japanese/Chinese-American born and raised on Ohlone land (San Francisco). Her art derives from a personal exploration of the fractal nature of identity as well as the visceral connection to divine, ancestral pasts and futures. With her analog, upcycled collages, she meticulously pieces together various fragments of found print media — from offensive National Geographic articles of the 1930s to neon grocery store advertisements she collected when living in the countryside of Kyoto.

Her collages are cacophonous yet graceful visual symphonies, juxtaposing inconspicuous grayscale scraps, colorful digital pixel-like bits and emotionally charged and familiar graphics that together transmit a deeper, mysterious knowledge and a visual cartography of her infinite self/selves.

• Susie Kagami, whose deep appreciation for her Japanese, Hawaiian and Chinese heritage keeps her connected to her ancestral roots and traditional arts.With her 25-year career as an entrepreneur, corporate manager and small business owner in management, music/event production, and retail sectors, she has honed her skills in discovering possibilities, organizing priorities, budgeting, fundraising, branding and marketing, bringing creative projects to life.

Her recent work includes the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and co-chairing the nonprofit parent organization of the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program at Rosa Parks Elementary School, where she found a passion for helping small nonprofit organizations grow community, recognition and funding.

• Lydia Nakashima Degarrod (http://nakashimadegarrod.com/), a Chilean-Japanese artist whose work has been shown nationally and internationally at museums and galleries. She has been artist-in-residence at de Young Museum of Art, Harvard University, and the Center for Art and Public Life. She teaches at California College of the Arts.

• Reiko Fujii (https://reikofujii.com), who was born in Riverside and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was one of the four featured Sansei Japanese American women artists in the seminal exhibit “Distillations: Meditations on the Japanese American Experience” during August-September of 2010 at the John F. Kennedy University Art Gallery. She was the recipient of the Susan Seddon Boulet Award from JFK University in 2004, received the Steven P. Corey Award at the 2006 PCcv BA Bookworks Exhibit, and also received several awards for her glass art at Ohlone College in Fremont.

• Lucien Kubo, a Sansei whose ceramic and mixed-media art draws from a wide range of inspirations and life experiences of being Japanese American as well as being part of the broader society. She likes to use a variety of materials to create a narrative.

Also featured are Angela Angel, Caryl Henry Alexander, Choppy Oshiro, Emerald Maher, Frances Huynh, Grace Hwang Lynch, Hanna Chen, Julio Magaña, Libby Paloma, lisa pradhan, MalPina Chan, Pallavi Sharma, Patricia Ong, Roseli Ilano, roshni kavate, Vasudhaa Narayanan, and The Round Rock Collective.

Featured farmers: Anh Doan, Austin Tom, Christina Chan, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng, Kristyn Leach, Mai Nguyen, Rishi Kumar, Scott Chang-Fleeman, and Shin Mune.

“Agrarianaa” is curated by Michelle A.Lee, Diana Li and Erina C Alejo. The artists were selected by jurors Sita Bhaumik, artist, educator, writer and cook with the People’s Kitchen Collective, and Aileen Suzara, land-based educator, eco-advocate and cook. Invited artists include O.M. France and The Rooted Recipes Project.

Gallery hours: Tuesday through Friday, 12 to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 12 to 5 p.m. Closing reception and literary reading: Thursday, May 23, 6 to 9 p.m.

The exhibition at JAMsj, 535 N. 5th St. in San Jose Japantown, runs through Oct. 13. Gallery hours: Thursday through Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m. Admission: $8 general, $5 students and seniors (includes admission to historical exhibits). Artist talk on Aug. 17, 1 to 3 p.m. Closing reception: Sept. 29, 1 to 3 p.m.

For more information, visit https://aawaa.net/.

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