Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT alum designs Austin Asian American Film Festival poster, bridges Texan, Cantonese identity

Manoo Sirivelu
Artist Tsz Kam stands for a portrait at the Austin Asian American Film Festival red carpet on Friday. Tsz designed the this year’s iteration of the festival poster.

Austin-based artist Tsz Kam immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong when she was just 13 years old. Ever since, she has blended elements of Hong Kong and Texan culture to create her own unique style. 

The UT studio art alum recently designed the poster for the 16th annual Austin Asian American Film Festival, which celebrates and showcases the work of Asian American Filmmakers. On display on the festival’s website and various promotional materials, the poster depicts the perception of beauty through distinct cultural lenses, according to Instagram. Kam uses her signature style of incorporating elements of Western art that center Asian Americans to play into a style she calls “Cantonese Cowgirl.”

“Cantonese cowgirl started off as an ironic visual,” Kam said. “I feel like in popular media, a lot of the times when Asian people do put on Western wear it’s almost supposed to have a little bit of comedic effect.”

Kam said the Cantonese cowgirl motif she used in the poster bridged that gap between her American and Asian identity which she strives to do in most of her creative work.

“Your sense of belonging, you create that yourself,” Kam said. “I think I use my work to do that.” 

Kevin Ivester, owner of Ivester Contemporary, said that Kam possesses a unique style that sets her apart from other artists he has seen. 

“(Kam’s) exploring the hybrid identities of the two cultures and mixing them in a really positive and interesting way,” Ivester said. “(By) using cultural markers from both spaces and clashing them together … Tsz not only finds the similarities but celebrates them.”

Ivester said that Austin is often overlooked as a destination for art, but creatives like Kam make the city special. 

“Austin is an incredibly creative place. There’s so many artists that live and work here,” Ivester said. “I think that you can look at events like the Austin Studio Tour and see that there’s well over 600 artists that participate in that every year.” 

Marlon Hedrick, the creative and social media marketing coordinator for the festival, said that he and Kam have worked together previously at events Hedrick has helped to put on at the Asian American Resource Center. 

“She’s also just been great to work with,” Hedrick said. “She’s very enthusiastic. I think it’s important to create spaces where Asian Americans can imagine new possibilities for themselves.” 

Hedrick, who met Kam when they were both studying with UT’s Asian American studies program, said that he has been a fan of her work and felt excited to get the opportunity to share her art through the festival. 

“When she has opportunities, it’s all her — I just pitched the idea,” Hedrick said. “I see the vision, and it works because she’s talented and incredible. But everything is 100% to her credit, she’s just put herself in a position to have these things come to fruition.”

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