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Reflections on Art As A Voice: What Does Community-Building Look Like to You?

A blog post by DVRP Summer Intern, Sunny Hu

If someone asked me this question earlier in the summer, I would not have had an adequate response. However, the privilege to help with A/PI DVRP’s annual art showcase—Art As A Voice (AAAV)—has provided me with a concrete example of what building relationships and forging solidarity with one another looks like. This past summer, I have had the chance to serve as DVRP’s Summer Community Building and Volunteer Support Intern, an eye-opening experience of working with a non-profit organization that applies transformative justice frameworks to end gender and power-based violence. The Art As A Voice event was my first-ever art event that centered on bringing in community-based artists and prioritized healing as a goal.

On Thursday, July 27, twelve phenomenal artists and numerous attendees gathered at the Festival Center in Washington, D.C. It was an evening of showcasing artwork like sculptures, digital art, photography pieces and performances on the guitar and keyboard. Attendees were also able to tour the tables with the artists’ work and view the community altar honoring the folks we have lost to anti-Asian violence and the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the artists, Hannah Colen, shared her experience of finding a space of healing at the event:

“Being both an Asian-American artist and survivor, there are rarely spaces that can safely acknowledge both of these identities simultaneously. API DVRP did an incredible job making sure everyone participating and attending were comfortable. With my healing journey, it's been difficult finding ways to share my story within the limitations I have to live with, but art has been such a strong tool for me to reclaim my power. My favorite part of the event was getting to connect with so many other talented individuals coming together with the same purpose. It's a blessing in life to meet others who create work you resonate with and those who resonate with the work you make.”

I would like to acknowledge the amazing artists who helped to make Art As A Voice an event of inspiration, wholeness, and healing. Thank you to Sahaja Yerramsetti (@artbysahaja), Christina Chung (@kindofchristine), Shreya/Shurjo Mukhi (@gentlesuns), Afzal Raj (@zal_raj), Hyun Jung Kim (@hjkimstudio), Veronica Faison (@veronicasvocals), Emma Shainwald (@emmazuo.yifu), Ellie La’Goon (@likethelagoon), Hannah Colen (@softpinkmoonlight), Radhika Gore (@radhikavgoremusic), Toni Lane (@ghettogirlsrule), and Zion Amero (@noizthematrixisreal) for participating in DVRP’s art showcase. The event would not have been possible without the help of the Mayor’s Office on Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA) and generous food donations from Olivia Macaron, RASA, and Dumpling and Beyond. Art As A Voice is an event you cannot miss and I look forward to folks being able to experience it again next year!

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