FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 9, 2021

PRESS CONTACTS:

Joseph Duong - jduong@janm.org - 213-830-5690

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PRESERVATION OF DEMOCRACY AT THE JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM AND ASIAN AMERICANS ADVANCING JUSTICE–LA ANNOUNCE TWO RECIPIENTS OF THE ARTISTS AT WORK INITIATIVE


LOS ANGELES - The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at the Japanese American National Museum (NCPD@JANM) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) have selected two artists who will develop new art projects that will explore the theme of anti-Asian hate and racism.

The two artists — Audrey Chan and jason chu – were selected for the Los Angeles cohort of the Artists At Work (AAW) initiative developed by THE OFFICE performing arts + film, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and with support from the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

After reviewing applicants, the NCPD@JANM and Advancing Justice-LA picked visual artist Chan and rapper/activist chu for their potential to “incorporate complex ideas of race and democracy into their work,” and to develop a compelling art piece, or series, for “public distribution that can increase visibility and inclusion of Asian and Pacific Islanders” in the United States.

“We are very proud to be a part of the Artists at Work initiative, and to have partnered with Advancing Justice-LA to select these two exciting and deserving artists,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM. “The pandemic dealt a tough blow to the arts world. But these two honorees are now part of AAW’s Los Angeles County class of artists who will receive a living wage for one year while they develop their projects. Our two honorees will use their unique creativity to address racism against Asians. Their work can be a beautiful, and powerful, antidote to Asian hate.”

Connie Chung Joe, Chief Executive Officer of Advancing Justice-LA said, “We are incredibly excited to be working with JANM on this project to support these talented artists and use art to amplify awareness around racial justice, particularly during this challenging time of anti-Asian hate. Social justice and activism happens in many forms; Audrey and Jason will use their powerful medium of visual art and spoken word, respectively, to do this.”

The NCPD@JANM and Advancing Justice-LA criteria sought emerging, Los Angeles County-based artists with more than five years of professional experience, but less than 15 years; and who are incorporating anti-racism themes to address hate against Asian Pacific Islanders.

Audrey Chan is a Los Angeles-based artist, illustrator, and writer. Her research-based projects use drawing, painting, public art, and video to challenge dominant historical narratives through allegories of power, place, and identity. She received a MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BA with Honors from Swarthmore College. Her work has been exhibited at venues including the USC Pacific Asia Museum, Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and Self Help Graphics & Art. Chan was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to create public artwork for the future Little Tokyo/Arts District Metro Station opening in 2022.

“As an Artist at Work fellow, I am truly honored to be joining forces with NCPD@JANM, Advancing Justice-LA, and rapper/activist Jason Chu to collaborate on cultural advocacy that counters hate against Asian communities,” Chan said. “This subject hits close to home because anti-Asian hate has impacted friends, colleagues, their loved ones, and so many others whose stories have – and haven't been – told in the news. In my role as a visual storyteller, I hope to uplift some of the complex and nuanced stories from our communities that deserve to be seen and valued within our shared American culture.

Rapper/activist jason chu makes music to "speak hope and healing in a broken world," blending introspective lyricism with high-energy live performances. chu has performed on the National Mall, shared poetry at The White House (President Barack Obama), and been featured at the Chinese American Museum. His music has been heard on Warrior (HBO/Cinemax), Snowpiercer (TNT) and Wu-Assassins (Netflix), and recognized by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. He tours extensively, serves as Communications Director at Hate Is a Virus, and is an expert on Asian American identity and hip-hop culture appearing on the BBC, NBC, and at Yale, Stanford, NYU, and beyond.

"I'm thrilled at the chance to work hand-in-hand with JANM and Advancing Justice-LA, to continue creating anti-racist work that speaks in, for, from, and with the breadth of our diverse AAPI community!” chu said. “I've always been moved by the many ways that exhibitions at JANM integrate beauty and urgency in their depictions of AAPI history and contemporary life, and I'm honored to participate in the legacy of this space."

The Artists at Work initiative in Los Angeles is being hosted at several diverse cultural institutions across Los Angeles County, from San Pedro to Pasadena to Lancaster.  The program’s inspiration is the Depression-era Works Progress Administration that employed millions of jobless workers, according to THE OFFICE performing arts + film and the LA County Department of Arts and Culture.

The Los Angeles project marks the beginning of a national expansion of AAW made possible by $3 million in funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The AAW fellowships pay artists to keep making art; gives support to cultural organizations and arts workers in their communities to host and work with those artists; and connects both artists and cultural organizations to local social impact initiatives in areas such as antiracism, justice reform, sustainability and equitable development, health, economy, homelessness and housing, child welfare, and immigration.

### 


National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at the Japanese American National Museum (NCPD@JANM)  Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, the NCPD@JANM will further reinforce JANM's mission to examine the rights, freedoms and enduring fragility of American democracy through educational programming that includes exhibitions, media arts presentations, public programs, conferences, and civic dialogue/public forums.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI). Founded in 1983, Advancing Justice-LA serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.

The LA County Department of Arts and Culture provides grants and professional development to hundreds of nonprofit arts and social justice organizations that support cultural services throughout LA County; runs the largest arts internship program in the nation and expands access to creative career pathways; coordinates countywide public-private arts education initiatives; commissions civic artwork; supports free community programs; advances cross-sector cultural strategies to address civic issues; and fosters cultural equity and inclusion. Visit lacountyarts.org for more information. 

THE OFFICE performing arts + film develops, produces, and presents art that makes a difference. THE OFFICE works with artists across all disciplines who strive in their practice to illuminate and advance causes that move them. It partners with presenting organizations that bring meaningful work to the public. THE OFFICE is an independent performing arts and film curator and production company based in New York and London that works in ongoing partnerships with festivals, venues, and institutions to create cultural programming that is unique and mission specific. 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. 

###