By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
When Grace Park was 10 years old, she realized that art can bridge distances between different races.
Park was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States in the fifth grade. She wasn’t fluent in English and felt like she didn’t belong at her new school.
“I remember when people would go to the playground and play and have fun, but I didn’t speak this foreign language, so I just stayed inside and drew and doodled,” she said.
However, one day, another classmate who was Caucasian joined her when she was drawing a birdhouse.
“All of a sudden, a simple birdhouse became a super complex, intricate, and fun bird hotel. Even though my English was broken, we barely talked when we were drawing, but I felt this sense of unity and that’s when I realized that art can unite everybody from any culture, any part of the world, even if you can’t communicate,” she explained.
Since then, Park was really inspired to focus her art on bridging the gap between different races because she realized that art can be a universal language.
Art has always been one of Park’s passions since she was a toddler. She never took it seriously, but it’s something she’s always enjoyed doing and sharing with others.
Park attributes her Korean culture and experience growing up there to her artwork.
“Even though it’s my seventh year living here, the Korean culture is still deeply ingrained and it really determines how I think, speak, and act, to this day. I think having that longer experience living in Korea really helped me contribute more rich details and perspective into my artworks regarding Korean culture,” she said.
Now, as a rising senior at Bellevue High School, Park is inviting others to elevate their art together and share with a broader audience. She’s curating a three-week art exhibition called “Our Culture, Our Voice” at the Factoria Mall in Bellevue that will run from Aug. 2–20.
“After witnessing numerous incidents of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans this year, I was inspired to initiate this project through which local Asian American high school students like me can project and honor our racial identity and culture through our own artistic expressions.”
She hopes that other Asian American students can share their unique experiences with the local community. In addition, Park hopes that the exhibition will be an open and comfortable platform for her and her fellow Asian American students to express their culture and narrative, and honor their racial and cultural identities that are often underrepresented in mainstream American society.
Park is looking to collect 20 to 30 artworks from local high school students who live in the greater Seattle area and reside within reasonable distance from the Factoria Mall.
As the name of this art show suggests, she’s looking to share the perspectives and experiences of Asian American high school students through their own artistic expressions.
Artwork submissions can take the form of any medium, from pencil, charcoal, acrylics, watercolor, colored pencils, to mixed media. Artworks cannot exceed 26 inches x 26 inches in dimension. Other than this requirement, any forms of artworks are welcome, as long as it relates to your experience with or perspective of Asian culture. You can address the Asian or Asian American culture as a whole, a specific Asian country, or any other combination.
“In the greater Seattle area, there aren’t very many opportunities for us to do that, especially with the recent hate crimes. I feel like us Asian Americans don’t feel as safe in public to share our stories, so I’m hoping this will provide a safe space for high school students to do that through their art.”
Interested in submitting your artwork to the exhibition? Submit it by July 21 at https://forms.gle/uQb5N8oeqxos6BfN9.
Nina can be reached at email@example.com.