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Dairy Arts exhibit showcases layered work of AAPI artists from all backgrounds

'inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE' will be up through July 16

“inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE” on display at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, in Denver, in October 2021. The exhibition is opening at Dairy Arts Center on Friday and will additionally feature a handful of Boulder-based AAPI creatives. (Wes Magyar/Courtesy photo)
“inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE” on display at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, in Denver, in October 2021. The exhibition is opening at Dairy Arts Center on Friday and will additionally feature a handful of Boulder-based AAPI creatives. (Wes Magyar/Courtesy photo)
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Dairy Arts Center’s newest exhibition, “inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE,” is an impactful show that features works from over a dozen artists of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. The exhibit will open with a reception from 5-8 p.m. Friday and will be on display through July 16.

"inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE" on display at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, in Denver, in October 2021. The exhibition is opening at Dairy Arts Center on Friday and will additionally feature a handful of Boulder-based AAIP creatives. (Wes Magyar/Courtesy photo)
“inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE” on display at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, in Denver, in October 2021. The exhibition is opening at Dairy Arts Center on Friday and will additionally feature a handful of Boulder-based AAPI creatives. (Wes Magyar/Courtesy photo)

“We are honored to be hosting the Dairy Arts Center’s first exhibition dedicated to AAPI creatives,” said Melissa Fathman, Dairy Arts Center’s executive director. “I first met Sammy Lee, one of the four curators, when she gave me a tour of the exhibition during its showing last October at RedLine. I was captivated by the sumptuous colors, textures and materials that drew me in as I gradually discovered deeper layers of meaning and message.”

Other curators include Boram Jeong, Boyung Lee and Chad Shomura. From pieces that speak to the feelings of otherness to ones that boldly celebrate aspects of tradition, each is rooted in a significant narrative.

“I knew this exhibition needed to make its way to the Dairy and was delighted to later learn that the curators expanded the original collection to include additional Boulder artists,” Fathman said.

"The Motherland" by Erin Hyunhee Kang. (Erin Hyunhee Kang/Courtesy photo)
“The Motherland” by Erin Hyunhee Kang. (Erin Hyunhee Kang/Courtesy photo)

Among the local creatives included is Erin Hyunhee Kang, who makes everything from paintings and murals to designing graphic book covers.

“I am very excited and honored to be part of this group show because it is a great opportunity for me to reflect my own diasporic marginal space where my identity is defined through both memories of my homeland and the current place of settlement,” Kang said.

Her one piece in the show, “The Motherland,” is an intriguing offering — both visually stimulating and rich with a personal backstory.

“I created a place where I hoped to bridge the generational gap by building my own home on top of painted interpretation of my mother’s world,” Kang said. “I tried to reflect my love and respect for my mother, disregarding all the differences we might have, by building a home right on top of a fading memory of the beautiful Korean paintings she created when I was a child.”

The very process of creating is reminiscent of an end-of-day practice Kang had with her mother.

“I applied and exfoliated prints of my digitally designed homes on top of a fragmented memory of my mother as if I was becoming my mother’s skin for tomorrow,” Kang said. “By using the exfoliating process, I relived the bonding that I once shared with my mother every night in the bath tub, gently rubbing, scrubbing and peeling away the daily dirt/guilt/decay/sin together as the healing ritual of the day and in expectation of a brighter tomorrow. It is my language of love for her.”

The end result is soothing mix of trees and mountains — the terrain of Seoul, Korea, where Kang was born and raised, juxtaposed with designs of her current American home over top.

"Dual Imprint Red" by Liz Quan. (Liz Quan/Courtesy photo)
“Dual Imprint Red” by Liz Quan. (Liz Quan/Courtesy photo)

“It is exciting to open up my practice of art-making as both experience and tool to reveal how this sense of diasporic transnationalism emerges as visual forms of marginal space — and how this marginal space can be my new homeland, a place of belonging, resistance and healing,” Kang said.

Liz Quan, an artist known for her fine porcelain work, has also crafted pieces that celebrate her family’s lineage and bring up the dichotomy of embracing and accepting both cultures.

“Ties to my Chinese heritage have always been present, but also distant, since I am a third-generation Chinese American,” Quan said. “The duality of the distinct cultures makes me feel ambivalent and uncertain and simultaneously empathetic and grateful.”

A detail of "Dual Imprint Indigo" by Liz Quan. (Liz Quan/Courtesy photo)
A detail of “Dual Imprint Indigo” by Liz Quan. (Liz Quan/Courtesy photo)

Her two circular pieces “Dual Imprint Indigo” and “Dual Imprint Red” offer viewers an aesthetically pleasing display, while also possessing meaning that goes beyond the surface.

“With these rings, I try to convey oneness and unity to celebrate both cultures,” Quan said. “My language of loose-porcelain gestures is a nod to Chinese calligraphy. Some are imprinted with embroidered silk designs from the remnants of my grandmother’s stash. The dialogue between my two identities embodies the spirit of traditional and contemporary aesthetics.”

Both Kang and Quan were part of a group show last year, “Colorado Asians,” displayed at Artworks Center for Contemporary Art in Loveland. They value the opportunity to once again be involved in a show that has created a platform for their peers and has kept the dialogue going.

“Showing work among other fellow Asians is what’s most unique about the show,” Quan said. “It’s interesting to see how our Asian culture has influenced us differently, depending upon our upbringing or whether we are first-generation or third-generation.”

"Neo Dorado" by Renluka Maharaj. (Thomas Pham/Courtesy photo)
“Neo Dorado” by Renluka Maharaj. (Thomas Pham/Courtesy photo)

Three striking mixed-media works from Renluka Maharaj are also on display in the exhibition. Female subjects are placed within colorful mashups to create work that speaks to commodification, exploitation and more.

“These latest pieces are part of a longer dialogue and larger series I will be completing in the next year that speak to the effects of extractivism on countries that are rich in natural resources,” said Maharaj. “Predominantly those spaces have been and continue to be Black, Indigenous and POC communities, including my country of Trinidad and Tobago. From the days of sugar cane plantations to extractions of oil, gas and pitch — colonialism has never left.”

While Maharaj won’t make it to the show’s opening, as she is currently doing an artist residency on the East Coast, she is thrilled to be included in the mix.

“It’s wonderful to be a part of this group show with such amazing talent,” Maharaj said. “Having a show also for AAPI month is a great way to bring attention to these underrepresented communities within the art context. I am also happy to be showing in the city where I live.”

"Mama DeLo" by Renluka Maharaj. (Renluka Maharaj/Courtesy photo)
“Mama DeLo” by Renluka Maharaj. (Renluka Maharaj/Courtesy photo)

Prior to the opening reception, folks can attend a panel discussion led by curator Boram Jeong in the Grace Gamm Theater from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Friday. The panel will include local participating artists Kang and Quan, along with Sammy Lee, Chinn Wang and Thomas Yi.

“I think this exhibition is important because it can expand the definition of home without boundaries and create sense of belonging as the whole community regardless of our differences and stereotypes,” Kang said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to explore arts that reflect what it means to be true to yourself and to others.”

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