Today, I had the honor of joining Cindy for an interview with Houston based artist Jooyoung Choi at her home and studio. The artist is a former resident at the Lawndale Art center - but you can google her press coverage, and wait to read her entire story in Rice Paper's debut issue. When I finished explaining the mission of the magazine to her, tentatively stating that it would be a print magazine and unsure as to how the artist would feel, Jooyoung launched into a story about how the late L.A. based, Asian-American magazine 'Audrey' was the beginning of her journey to finding her birth parents in Korea. So magazines - especially Asian-American ones - have a special significance to her life. Hearing the impact a magazine, a relatable magazine, could have on someone's life was extremely uplifting to me, and a great start to an amazing two hours spent learning Jooyoung's story.
On our way back to campus, I told Cindy that those two hours with the artist are in my top five favorite memories of all time now. I don't want to spoil the amazing feature that will come out of those two hours, but we talked about everything from Asian-American representation in media, to Black Lives Matter, to resilience and the beauty of embracing "not knowing." Never before in my life have I cried in front of someone I had just met two hours ago, but I did.
Jooyoung was telling us about her Project Row House installation when a wave of inspiration, hope, relief, awe, and gratitude hit me like a brick wall and suddenly I was bawling (how embarrassing!!) The fact that I was here listening to this compassionate, genius, artist-advocate, and would later have the honor of being one of the first to publish her story for the world to read, amazed me - it still does, and not just for her story, for everyone else's. I think I was also crying because in that moment, I realized that out of all the projects I have been throwing out there, this was the project I was truly looking for. Making clothing, being a social media manager, styling, blogging and vlogging... none of those really and truly cater completely to both my passion for creating AND my passion for humans. That sounds SO cliche and probably fake (who tf says out loud that they're passionate about humans?!) but I'm trying to be as transparent as possible here and I'm lacking in words right now.
The point is, and Jooyoung mentioned this at the end of our visit, that this magazine could quite possibly be a big thing for this movement to push Asian-Americans forward - in media representation, in civic engagement, in discussing things other than the best new place for drinks like maybe social injustice. And that's what I hope it will be one day. A platform to launch your art career or to shareyour opinions and start discussions. And, as a print publication, a physical representation of all of the talent and strength in our community, a tangible piece of Asian-American history.
(Again, thank you Cindy, for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. I love you!)