Kindred Journey 17 -Bobby Hundreds

If this is your first time seeing this, I started a series of paintings called “Kindred Journey” last year celebrating my Asian American Pacific Islander folks for the month of May ( Asian Amer history month). Just like last year I’ll be dropping some paintings of folks from the past and present making their grand parents proud. 
This guy right here is Bobby Hundreds, the co-founder of the Street wear brand “The Hundreds”. Bobby and Ben (then law students) started their company in 2003, decades after brands like Vans and Stussy, but not too long after Supreme and 10 Deep. They started with t-shirts that spoke directly to 80’s and 90’s kids using the iconic bomb, punk, hip hop, skater, pop culture, and California references. They then expanded to cut and sew products such as sweaters, pants, jackets, hats, and more. The brand Bobby helped build, design, market, and grow started with clothes and eventually opened flagship stores in LA (his hometown), SF, and NYC. Not only that they have created their own print magazine and a killer video presence that gives back to the next generation while inspiring new ones. If you have Asian parents or grand parents you know it is tough to get respect doing anything but law, medicine, or tech (now), but Bobby and his team have done it. Salute.

: The Hundreds.com, Wikipedia, LA Times
Digging this? : Check out Kiwi of Native Guns

Kindred Journey 15 – Chhaya Chhoum

I found out about Chhaya through the NY Times conversation with Asian Americans about race. Chhaya is the founding executive director of Mekong NYC, a non profit organization dedicated to organizing Cambodian and Vietnamese Americans, recent immigrants, and families in the Bronx New York. Mekong started out as a project of CAAAV (Communities Against Anti-Asian Violence) which grew out of a lot of hatred and racism directed toward the Asian American community in NYC. Chhaya immigrated to the US with her family fleeing the violence of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (over 150K Cambodian/Vietnamese migrated to the BX between 1975-2000), but was brought into a late 70’s world of poverty and violence in the form of city life. She joined CAAAV at a young age and became an organizer fighting against slum lords, poverty and trauma families carried with them. Her work in the Bronx is ground breaking considering the incredible challenges both Cambodian and Vietnamese families face with regards to cultural difference, language, housing, and so much more that really deserves a specific intentional support network. Chhaya’s work shatters that model minority stereotype which denies the lives, struggles, and stories of so many Asian American youth. I also dig that she talks about the use of art to heal and organize!

Sources: APA Institute, NY Times, Petra Foundation

Kindred Journey 7 – Hmong BBoys

I saw this documentary called “Among B-Boys” by Christopher Woon and R.J. Lozada this week which is an amazing piece of documentation that is necessary watching for students of Hip Hop and Asian American studies. I have heard of the Hmong people but there were many things that I didn’t know such as their people coming from a region that encompassed more than one country(Laos, Thailand, China, and Vietnam). I also didn’t know that there was such a huge concentration of Hmong immigrants and refugee families in places like Minneapolis, Fresno, Merced, and Oklahoma. Some of the crews like Velocity, Soul Rivals, Airsteps, and Underground Flow were in the film. And this brought me back to high school because I remember a hole gang of B-Boys at my school who were South East Asian. I think hip hop culture touches so many and speaks to a lot of people no matter where they are from. I also think that for the young men and women in the film, to grow up here in the states or in any country that is different than your parents birthplace is a balancing act. The challenge for artist and storytellers is to make the stories that often seem invisible or weird to the mainstream more readily available; and told in a way that is well executed. Shout out to the Hmong Bboys!

Source: Among B-Boys

Kindred Journey 6 – Diane Yang

I heard about Diane Yang from the Zagat series by Jessica Sanchez on Foodways. Diane was born and raised in the states, but her parents are Hmong from Laos/Cambodia. She is the executive pastry chef at a restaurant in Minneapolis (home to a big Hmong population) called “Spoon and Stable” where she makes beautiful, yet simple creations influenced by modern and classic techniques. Diane began school at Le Cordon Bleu in 2000 and began working for some incredible restaurants and chefs not long after. I was intrigued by the amazing look of her pastries because I love them, but also by her cultural pride and achievements.

Sources: Foodways/Zagat, Spoon and Stable

Kindred Journey 5-Anderson .Paak

Yes, the brother is both African American and Korean (Seoul). Anderson Paak has been singing and plying drums for a long time and if you’ve seen the live performance you know he is talented. His most recent single “Am I wrong” was like a breath of fresh air to soul music whether it be slow or with a faster house bass.  I appreciate the composition of the music and the character of his lyrics are not cookie cutter R&B. Paak has been getting more well deserved attention after working with the likes of Dr. Dre on the Compton LP and Knxledge as one half of Nx Worries. But he began working with brother Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra back in 2011 and has been putting out projects steadily. With four solo studio albums, multiple singles and collaborations he is someone to keep your eye out for.  Not only for his style, confidence, great album art design, but for his musicianship.

Sources: Hot 97 W/Ebro, Wikipedia

Kindred Journey 4- Eiko Ishioka

Eiko was born in 1938 in Tokyo Japan. She began her young career in design by attending the Tokyo national university of fine arts and music, graduating in 1961 and embarking on a career of graphic design. She opened her own design studio and began working on advertising campaigns for cosmetic companies. She was hired to not only design promotional ads but commercials. She began working for films such as Dracula, The Cell, The Fall, The Immortals, and Mishima a small film directed by Paul Shrader in the ’80s. Eiko’s work also extended into theater, circus companies such as Cirque du Soleil, basketball, and design for The Olympics. Before she passed away in 2012 she was given many awards but what I loved most about her work that I saw in “The Cell” and “The Fall” was the bold color, the distinct curves and angels, and the directness of her pieces. A collection of her work is still up at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. 
Sources: The Cell, NY Times, Wikipedia

Kindred Journey 2- Iris Chang

Iris was an award-winning journalist and writer whose parents are both professors from Taiwan. She was born in the states and raised in Illinois. She worked for several newspapers as a journalist before becoming a writer. I believe researching articles, facts, and historical accuracy led to her wanting to write the immense books she wrote about Asians and Chinese Americans throughout history. Her first book, “Thread of the Silkworm” was about a Chinese professor named Tsien Hsue-shen who although brought incredible research and work to the United States, was unfairly targeted as a spy during the great “Red Scare” of the 1950s in the U.S.

“The Rape of Nanking”, her second book, talked in depth about what Chinese women and men faced during World War 2 when the Japanese invaded the town of Nanjing. Her third book titled “The Chinese in America” highlighted the struggles of Chinese Americans and many Asian Americans in the US being made to feel like the “other” or not truly American simply because they are Asian. While doing research last month I came across Iris and remembered seeing her books. Sadly, Iris took her own life after a serious bout with depression and overuse — maybe even misdiagnosis of –prescription medication. I love the fact that she unapologetically wrote about stories that are not talked about enough in history. Even older Asian Americans sometimes have an attitude of being tough despite the struggles they faced, and she is one of many scholars highlighting the stories and injustices of her people and those of others. RIP Iris Chang.