Every two years, a national gathering of artists and activists come together at the APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit. My first summit was in 2005 in Boston.  The summit travels to a new host city each time, and this year was Twin Cities, Minnesotaaaa!  The summit experience and family has undeniably been a huge part of my growth and inspiration as an artist.  It’s four days of workshops, performance showcases, dancing, partying, connecting and a shitload of eating. On top of it all, it’s become a time to reunite with so many of the homies all across the country.  I feel blessed to be part of such a beautiful, inspiring and powerful community.

One thing I REALLY appreciated about the summit this year was the fact that they invited 4 first generation Asian American artists to be recognized and honored: David Mura, Joe Kadis, Brenda Wong Aoki and Lawson Inada.  These folks are pioneers in the world of Asian American arts, publishing and performance.  The idea of honoring our elders and paying tribute to those who came before us is deeply rooted in Asian cultures and values.  Especially in a digital age of self-centered YouTubing, DIY notoriety and self-proclaimed fame, honoring our creative elders was refreshing and humbling.  The whole experience reminded me to live for something larger than myself.

Summit was intense in the best and challenging ways, and I’m overwhelmed with so many emotions.  My head feels like a fucking thunderstorm, so I need some time to decompress and process it all.  I’ll try to share more thoughts and reflections from my trip in short posts to follow.  In the mean time, here are some photos:

Whaddaya know—Snoopy was black! This piece of art is deep!

My goal in every workshop is to make people cry ;)

This restaurant peeled the skin off the shrimp before grilling. I was so thankful.

Beautiful people.

For more photos and recap, check out the APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit Page

It’s been crazy busy for me lately, I’m trying my best to keep up with these blog posts!

I got the chance to paint live at LA Rising Saturday and see Lauryn Hill perform again.  Shit was off the hook. I had so much fun.  I painted with my new friend/role model, Jules Muck, again. And let me tell you, it’s pretty dope to be two female artists holding it down with the spray can.  In a concert full of hip hop heads, radicals and revolutionary spirits, we were def representing for the non-conventional and challenging people’s perceptions of what women can do.

I HAVE A TERRIBLE BAD HABIT. I NEVER REMEMBER/CARE TO TAKE PHOTOS IN THE MOMENT.  I NEED HELP WITH THIS! IT NEEDS TO STOP! In the mean time, I have no dope photos to show you.  But thankfully, there are people who get paid to take photos!  This shot of me below ended up in the LA Times online.  Check out his photo coverage of LA Rising HERE.

Yes, that is some serious skin peeling off my back. It’s from a sunburn I got last week while painting Gil-Scott Heron outdoors.  No pain no gain.

As much as I love live painting at events—because it’s fun as hell and I know it inspires young artists (female or male) to pursue their passions—it’s also nerve wrecking for me.  It’s difficult to allow people to witness (speculate, critique, judge, nitpick) your every move in the creative process.  Especially since my creative process involves sloppy, ugly, awkward phases before I start to tighten everything up.  But I’m learning to get deep in the zone and tune everyone else out (including my own negative thoughts/insecurities) when I’m painting in public.  As a “perfectionist”, it’s also important to learn to become comfortable with people seeing all the parts of me—not just the finished product all nice and polished.  That’s like when people only post good photos of themselves on Facebook.  We all have ugly moments, and it’s humanizing.  At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that I’m not there to please or prove myself to anyone else but myself.

I have a few visitors from BOS/NY this week so I’m aaaaaaaaamped!  I miss home like crazy and nothing like some east coast blood to brighten up my mood.  I’m on the grizzy like whoa this week before I fly out Wednesday night for TWIN CITIES!!!! The 10 year anniversary of the APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit is going down again.  I’ve been a part of this national convening of Asian American artists, writers, activists, community makers and movement shakers since 2005!  I’m looking forward to an amazing weekend. Updates to come!

Thank you for reading. XO.