A collaboration with East Side Arts Alliance, Serve The People, Black August, UCB API Alumni Chapter, and dozens of folks to celebrate the life and legacy of Richard M. Aoki.
Richard M. Aoki Altar Mixed media 16' x 8' March 2009
Principal designer Jose “Peps” Garcia developed the dragons and image of Richard. Peps was a teacher and guide throughout the process where we learned as we went – from figuring out what kinds of panels we wanted to get to assembling the installation to critiquing the work as it progressed.
When we sat down to discuss the framework of the altar, it was important to me that we include ways for the community to contribute and also learn more about Richard. This is when we incorporated the Senbazuru (thousand cranes) and collaging into the piece.
Richard M. Aoki Altar (detail) Mixed media
Emory Douglas, artist and revolutionary cultural worker for the Black Panthers, along with Le Nguyen, Greg Morozumi, Peps, and I spent many hours on the altar – together as well as taking turns adding to the piece resulting in a multi-layered, eclectic feel. A number of artists also came in to bless the piece with their creativity including Suzanne Takehara, Somneng Chan, Lailan Huen, and others….!
In fact so many people, named and anonymous, contributed to the altar that it would be impossible for me to list them all here. It was a rewarding group effort full of love and choppin’ it up while we worked.
People brought old buttons, fruit, flowers, panther memorabilia, and cigarettes for the altar. In addition, people were encouraged to write a prayer or wish and place it on the altar.
Over 1,400 cranes were made and dropped off at EastSide Arts Alliance. Most of the makers were unknown. Betty Kano’s mom, who is in her nineties, made more than a hundred cranes.
A womyn and trans Korean drum group performed a traditional sending off song.
Leadership Legends Tile, hand-painted tile, and mirror 12' x 6' 2008
I worked with the leadership class of 2007-2008 at Westlake Middle School in Oakland, CA to make a 6 ft by 12 ft mosaic.
Extraordinary leadership class teachers Ashlee George and Vernon Bell guided the class through a group decision making process for an action project that they elected to call Leadership Legends. The class ended up choosing to beautify the “boring looking” school through a mosaic that would document the legacy their class sought to leave at the school. Young artists from the class drafted concept designs of the mosaic as well as choose the colors for the tile.
I worked with them to finalize and make the design proportional, transfer the image onto the wall, cut tile, glaze tile, set the tile onto the wall and then lastly, grout. The whole process took about 8 weeks during class and after school on minimum days!
First children and parents made paper “mosaics”, then small holiday ornaments, then 12″ x 12″ mosaic boards. Prompts for the art included “What is justice?” and “What is freedom?”
This all culminated in the design of a collective mosaic that the families (mostly moms with their kids), decided would be about women’s liberation. The 4′ x 6′ mosaic is now installed in the San Antonio district.