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Stories from the Asian Diaspora: Community Organizers and Activists

Sheida Soleimani,  Maryam , 2017, archival pigment print on cotton, polyester filling, dimensions variable, image in courtesy of the artist

Sheida Soleimani, Maryam, 2017, archival pigment print on cotton, polyester filling, dimensions variable, image in courtesy of the artist

Stories from the Asian Diaspora: Community Organizers and Activists
Thursday, February 15 6:30-8:30
NARS Foundation Gallery

Thursday, February 15 | 6:30-8:30 PM
Roundtable discussion with community organizers and activists

Roundtable Panelists:
Mieko Gavia, independent writer
Monica Mohapatra, board member of South Asian Diaspora Artist Collective
Mark Tseng-Putterman, writer and PhD student, Brown University Department of American Studies
Ambika Trasi, artist, board member of South Asian Women's Creative Collective, curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Betty Yu, multi-media artist, educator and co-founder of Chinatown Art Brigade

Audre Lorde's essay Scratching the Surface: Some notes on Barriers to Women and Loving asks "in what ways have we been conditioned to view each other with suspicion, as eternal competitors, or as the visible face of our own self-rejection? What are the tactics of encouraging horizontal hostility that only extends sideways to becloud the real vertical lines of power or oppression?"

What horizontal hostilities do we extend towards other identities and bodies in the Asian diaspora? Or to other communities of color? How can we move forward to critique the real vertical lines of power and position ourselves as allies with the idea that our liberties are intertwined?


Mieko Gavia is a queer, multiracial writer, actor, and art model. She is the co-owner of Black Revolutionary Theatre Workshop and co-admin of an online collective for Asian leftists, artists, and activists.

Monica Mohapatra, is organizer and writer from Bangalore, India, living in Brooklyn. Her creative work, both visual and written, explores surveillance, migration, and text as material. She's interested in the diaspora as a channel through which solidarity is produced and in which uncertainties (queerness, lack of documentation, subjectivity) are celebrated. @cemicool

Mark Tseng-Putterman is a writer and PhD student at Brown University, where he researches Asian American social movements, coalitional politics, and comparative ethnic studies. He is passionate about Asian American political education and activism, having served as a co-advisor to the undergraduate student leadership program A/P/A BRIDGE at New York University from 2014 to 2017. He also worked as a media justice campaigner at 18MillionRising from 2015 to 2016, focusing on issues of surveillance, internet access, and media policy. During the trial of former NYPD officer Peter Liang, Mark worked with the group Asians4BlackLives - NYC to address misinformation in the Chinese American community and demand justice for the family of Akai Gurley. He is also active in the American Jewish anti-Zionist left and is a member of the Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus working in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace. Mark's writing on Asian American racial politics has appeared in The Root, Truth-Out, Reappropriate, Race Files and elsewhere.

Ambika Trasi is a visual artist and arts organizer based in Brooklyn. She works across a variety of media to investigate the histories, myths, aesthetics, and poetics deeply embedded within ordinary objects in order to reveal existing traces and traumas of colonialism. Prior to joining the Whitney Museum of American Art as a Curatorial Assistant, Trasi was former Managing Director of Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), 2013-2017, where she organized and assisted in the curation of numerous exhibitions and major innovative programs hosted at Asia Society (2014 & 2016), The 56th Venice Biennale (2015), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015), Hunter College Art Galleries (2015), Seattle Art Fair (2015) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2016). As a board member of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC), she managed exhibitions and public programs held at Queens Museum (2016) and Abrons Art Center (2017).

Betty Yu is a multimedia artist, filmmaker, educator and activist raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Chinese immigrant parents. Ms. Yu's documentary “Resilience” about her garment worker mother fighting sweatshop conditions, screened at national and international film festivals including the Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival. Yu’s multi-media installation, “The Garment Worker” was featured at Tribeca Film Institute’s Interactive. She worked with housing activists and artists to co-create "Monument to Anti-Displacement Organizing" that was featured in the Agitprop! show at Brooklyn Museum. Betty was a 2012 Public Artist-in-Resident and received the 2016 SOAPBOX Artist Award from Laundromat Project. In 2017, Ms. Yu was awarded several artist residences from institutions such as the International Studio & Curatorial Program & Skidmore's Documentary Studies Collaborative. In 2015, Betty co-founded Chinatown Art Brigade, a cultural collective using art to advance anti-gentrification organizing.

Later Event: February 23
A Boat Date by Lu Zhang