Climate change, environmental justice, sustainability—these terms have become increasingly crucial to our current social and political discourse. How do artists respond to these issues in their creative work? How does their artistic practice advance their beliefs in environmental justice? How can the work itself gain wider traction and raise awareness in our culture and society?
Join the Asian American Arts Alliance for a closer look at how creative practice intersects with environmental justice and activism. Four artists working in multiple disciplines will present recent projects and walk us through their origin stories and underlying rationales, approaches to artmaking and activism, and desired impact. The presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion with the artists and Q&A with the audience.
Panelists include Lanxing Fu (Superhero Clubhouse), Juliann Ma (SEAS), Tattfoo Tan (Heal the Man in order to Heal the Land), and Yasuyo Tanaka (Under This Sky), moderated by Seema Lisa Pandya (sustainability consultant and multidisciplinary artist).
This program is free and open to the public.
Lanxing Fu is a Chinese-American theater artist and co-director of Superhero Clubhouse, a community of artists and scientists engaged in a long term experiment to understand how theater can help shift consciousness in the face of climate change and environmental injustice. With SHC, Fu is the playwright and co-creator of Mammelephant (The New Ohio / HERE Arts Center) the program director of The Living Stage NYC (University Settlement), and a co-creator of PLUTO (no longer a play), (The Brick) and JUPITER (a play about power), (La MaMa). She previously worked with theater and civic engagement ensemble, Building Home, in Virginia’s New River Valley. Recent performances: The Space Between the Letters (dir: Eva von Schweinitz, UTR at The Public), A Climate Clown Opera? (dir: Sarah Hughes, LPAC), 36 Peaks (dir: Sarah Cameron Sunde, Baryshnikov Arts Center), and Holidays In/Coyote (dir: Jess Chayes, The Tank). Her essays “Building Possibility in the Age of Climate Change” and “The Birth of a Climate Commons” are published on HowlRound.
Juliann Ma pursues a passion for revolutionizing world education and lifestyle practices through the arts. Her constant search for new, meaningful ways to communicate with audiences has led her to address global concerns by extending her native language of piano performance through collaborative, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary projects that she writes, directs, and produces. Her three-year-old initiative, S E A S (Sustainable Environment through the Arts & Sciences), features an expanding team of artists and scientists who bring her research-drawn stories to screen and stage and has earned the Father Merlet and Marin Alsop Entrepreneurship Awards. Under her direction, they have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Consulate General of France in New York, and Yamaha Artist Services New York and have released their debut works “Rise, Awaken” & “Isostasy” to the greater public via YouTube. Most recently, S E A S was celebrated in Heritage Space, Hanoi, Vietnam, as a major feature in collaborator Katherina Nguyen’s Art and Technology : Art as Insight exhibition. Ma completed her studies at Stanford University (B.A. Music, Honors and Distinction, minor in Creative Writing), École normale Supérieure de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot (Diplôme d’Exécution de Piano, Fulbright grant), The Juilliard School (Master of Music), and Mannes, The New School for Music (Professional Studies).
Seema Lisa Pandya (moderator) is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist, accomplished sustainability green building consultant, adjunct professor of sustainable design, and community builder. As an artist, she explores the intersections of sustainability, art, cultural, and the built-environment. Her work focuses on two predominant themes, universal principals of physics and environmental sustainability. Emulating from a deep interest in basic universal forms, her art explores principals in nature such as gravity, the push-pull balance of things in relation to one another, and the fractal boundaries between negative and positive space. This has inspired the creation of a variety of work over the years ranging from public art sculptures, interactive kinetic sculptures, slatted light sculptures, site-specific installations, public guerilla street art (including the Christmas Tree Massacre), amoeba shaped fractal paintings, and her current series of large sculptures made from discarded played tabla drum heads. Her world view stems from the intersection of a sustainability oriented lens, the creative art making process, and decades of leadership work forming community and cultural organizations. Seema was also the co-owner of Denver’s Revoluciones Collective Art Space, and the Executive Director for the Brooklyn Raga Massive. She is a graduate and undergraduate professor of sustainable design at both FIT SUNY and New York School of Interior Design and works from her studio in Brooklyn.
Tattfoo Tan’s practice focuses on issues relating to ecology, sustainability, and healthy living. His work is project-based, ephemeral, and educational in nature. Tan has exhibited at venues including the Queens Museum of Art, Eugene Lang College at the New School for Liberal Arts, Parsons the New School for Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, 601 Tully: Center for Engaged Art and Research at Syracuse University, Macalester College, Ballroom Marfa, Creative Time, Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, Project Row Houses, and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. Tan’s projects have been presented by the Laundromat Project, the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for the Arts program, and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts program. His work has been published by Gestalten and Thames and Hudson. He is the recipient of grants from Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Art Matters, Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and Staten Island Arts. In 2010, Tan received the annual Award for Excellence in Design by the Public Design Commission of the City of New York for his design and branding of the Super-Graphic on Bronx River Art Center.
Yasuyo Tanaka is a social practice artist and educator. She’s a first-generation Japanese immigrant living in New York City. Her perspective changed when she got involved in the life of two countries. The historical background of the United States and Japan has influenced her work. International disputes, environmental issues, borders, discrimination, identity, media literacy, and self-transformation are motivations for her work. She’s been creating her artwork through researching environmental issues and creating places to convey information and interact with others through exhibitions and events. Her works consist of different techniques, media, and disciplines in order to broaden her range of expression and to raise her own and other’s social consciousness and heighten independent thinking. As collaborative teaching projects “To be teach is to be taught,” she creates plans for classes that are themed on social and environmental issues by using art techniques. She has been practicing education that incorporates art with teachers who became partners. Her exhibitions, workshops, artist talks, and projects are held nationally and internationally.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and Con Edison.
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