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In response to recent hate crimes and acts of violence against Asian Americans, one of the best ways to cope with the collective trauma being experienced by so many Americans is to create art. The Art of Our Century Gallery in New York, New York, is doing just that. “Illuminated Landscapes” opened May 6, 2021 and is in partnership with Ankhlave Arts Alliance as a charitable event to stop AAPI hate. The show features five Asian American artists, Arthur Kwon Lee, Kayo Shido, Akemi Takeda, Lisa Kawazoe, and Xiao Wang.
The show’s Associate Director, Katerina Levantis, stated that the show came about after an experience she had when seeking out attending graduate school. She received an email from her university based on her Asian American heritage stating that she had the option to attend classes online in response to recent hate crimes against Asian Americans in the area. Naturally, she was shocked and alarmed by this idea that she was in danger and her education was being threatened by the violent acts of others. For so many people, the most natural response to this kind of trauma is to want to come together with other creatives and create art, and that’s exactly what Levantis did.
Katerina Levantis joined forces with gallery curator Ali Haselback to create the show now known as “Illuminated Landscapes.” The show will be housed within the Art of Our Century gallery in the space that once housed New York’s first Spanish language bookstore. All of the proceeds from the art being sold during the event will go directly to charities helping the stop against hate crimes against AAPI.
On Friday May 7th, the gallery hosted a charitable reception in the downstairs bar in which all proceeds were donated The event features sponsors such as Hiatus Tequila. The “Art in Odd Places” organization, which focuses on the creation of performance art in spaces in which it isn’t usually housed, will also be doing a cross promotional event.
This event also happened to fall on Mother's Day weekend. Levantis stated that she dedicated the show to her mother for her strength and power, specifically as an Asian American woman. Levantis stated on the gallery’s website that the show is primarily about, "A real thread between each artist is an interest in connecting with the landscapes in which we reside, collecting photographic moments of NYC streets, emulating undulating hills in expressive brush strokes, or foliage lit with an otherworldly glow," through the exploration of a multitude of media.
This show comes at a time when art is so desperately needed as a way of collective healing from the massive trauma that has been experienced by not only Americans, but people around the world in the last year. It brings a spark of light and hope through charitable donations and the coming together of so many vastly talented artists.
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