Local artists to connect, convene at Asian Pacific American Artist Meet Up

Landry Allred

When Yola Lu searched for an older Asian woman to cast as her mother in her web series, it proved to be more difficult than she imagined. Luckily for Lu and other artists like her, events are emerging to make connecting to artists in the Austin Asian-American artist community easier.

Following the positive reception of “Crazy Rich Asians” and buzz from #AsianAugust on Twitter, Color Arc Productions, a nonprofit arts organization that aims to highlight diversity — is hosting a meet up on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The VORTEX on Manor Road. Asian Pacific American artists from all over Austin will gather to share ideas, network and foster a supportive community.

Lu, a local APA artist and member of the improv troupe, “Y’all We Asian,” said she hopes to find a community with whom she can create new projects and explore visions she has not yet had the chance to pursue.

“I just want to make new connections, network as much as I can and then just see who’s out there,” Lu said. “It’s also nice to have this established community and kind of feel like you have a support system in the area, too.”

The meet up will consist of a low-maintenance agenda, including simple introductions, explaining current projects and motivation for attending, discussing ways to improve the Austin artist community and outlining how to achieve such goals. Christine Hoang, founder and president of Color Arc Productions, said she hopes to have a social calendar for attendees to sign up for projects to collaborate on.

“I think it’s time to get everybody together and talk the same conversation,” Hoang said. “I think we’re having these conversations in different places, just not all together.”

Attendees, such as Andrew Lee — an advisory board member for the Austin Asian American Film Festival — are hoping to discover varying types of APA artists in Austin and projects people are creating.

“Because I am a film producer, I think it’s valuable for me to know what artists are in the community that I need to be aware of and support with what I do,” Lee said. “This is kind of that opportunity to look up, look around and appreciate what’s happening around you.”

This is not only a promise of community, but Hoang explained this is a chance to break the norm of Asian-Americans pursuing careers that align with family expectations, such as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

“Going out and proclaiming that you’re an artist and being an Asian-American artist is, in itself, an act of rebellion,” Hoang said. “But it’s not something where you’re doing it to be defiant to your parents. You’re doing it to satisfy a piece of your soul.”

This change in narrative for the Austin Pacific American artist community in Austin is just the beginning. Reflecting on the positive public response to “Crazy Rich Asians,” Lee mentioned that Austin box offices saw an outstanding turnout.

“I’m really excited about it, mainly because I believe we’ve kind of recently (been) given a platform to really be visible,” Lee said. “While it’s kind of a national platform, our community has shown that it’s very open to consuming art from Asian talent.”

This openness to Asian artists might push the community in Austin to stand up and take part in this movement. Hoang said she hopes college students will come and support the start of
something new.

“There is value and importance in what you have to say, so I would love to see some college kids come out and help shape and form what this would look like,” Hoang said. “Soon, we’re going to be handing the baton to you, and then you’re going to take the lead.”