By Kristine Chang

 

Pomona College’s Asian American Mentor Program (AAMP) held its very first art show at the Hive on Saturday, November 17th, to explore the nuanced and intersectional experiences of those less visible within the 5C Asian/Pacific Islander American (APIA) community. The event, organized by AAMP’s Diversity Committee, showcased over 40 original pieces of art from students across the 5Cs.

In order to promote the theme of storytelling and community, the Diversity Committee wanted the art show to be a social, engaging event, in which audience members interacted with the art and each other. Kristine Chang (POM’21), a member of the committee, collaborated with Jivika Rajani, the Design and Creative Processes Associate at the Hive, to plan out the general layout and feel of the art show. The show required new ways to display art—several artists submitted original artwork, specifically requesting that the pieces not be taped or hung, so they would remain in pristine condition, and other art mediums (such as videos and zines) couldn’t be hung. While some art was displayed on walls or white boards, much of the artwork was placed throughout the Hive’s uniquely open space on tables arranged to form islands, creating a casual and immersive environment.

To increase audience engagement, the show featured two student performances. Gabby Lupola (PO’21), Dom Aiu Taber (HMC’21), Maris Kamalu (PO’21), Hope Matsumoto (PZ’21), and Kahale Naehu-Ramos (PO’21) from the Indigenous Peer Music Program (an extension of the Indigenous Peer Mentoring Program) performed traditional island songs. Afterward, Sujay Singh (right, PZ’19) sang solo, with Zayn Singh (left, SC’20) as his guitar accompaniment. According to Sujay, “the event was a platform that allowed a lot of students of color across the 5Cs to share aspects of art that represented their identity. I loved feeling comfortable sharing music and appreciated how open the atmosphere was!”

 

Interactive stations were set up to encourage audience members to create their own art. Andrew Nguy (PO’19) from Tea Circle Club and Binh Nguyen (PO’22) from the Calligraphy Club hosted tables with tea tasting and calligraphy workshops. Andrew states, “The art show was phenomenal. I really cherished being in such a creative and supportive space with my peers. Aside from quenching parched throats, [Tea Circle] also facilitated friendships and bonding as attendees met over tea in tiny cups.”

 

 

A key focus when collecting submissions for the art show was accessibility, as many narratives go untold because of their vulnerable nature. The Diversity Committee wanted every APIA staff member or student on campus to feel safe and comfortable submitting work, so artists had the option to remain anonymous. Approximately one third of the submissions were anonymous—artists either dropped off artwork at the Asian American Resource Center or submitted works through an online form. Since traditional art forms tend to be inaccessible without certain training or supplies, the committee invited artists to submit artwork in any format, including journal entries, origami, and pieces of clothing.

AAMP envisions future art shows and initiatives that bring people together in safe, supportive spaces. By centering on underrepresented voices at The Claremont Colleges, the Diversity Committee hopes to foster equity, empathy, and learning. Ultimately, AAMP aspires to serve APIA students, and the art show is one of various programs that promotes a broader awareness of the nuanced APIA cultural identity on campus and beyond. The sense of openness and creative leadership at the Hive further inspired the committee’s vision for the event. AAMP appreciates the support of the Hive and looks forward to more collaborative events in the future!

The event was co-sponsored by the Chinese Student Association, Asian Pacific Islander Sponsor Program at Harvey Mudd College (APISPAM), Asian Pacific American Mentors (APAM) at Claremont McKenna College, and the Asian American Sponsor Program (AASP) at Scripps College.

The members of AAMP’s Diversity Committee—Camille Sanchez (PO’19), Kristine Chang (PO’21), Jacob Noh (PO’21), Tiffany Chen (PO’21), Cody Pham (PO’21), and Soham Khan (PO’21)—spent almost three months organizing the art show and coordinating with various on-campus organizations for funding and publicity.

Over 150 members of the Claremont community, including several members of the Asian American Resource Center, came to support the performances at the art show.

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