Kicking off a series of programs celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Palos Verdes Library District hosted the Community & Family Sumi-E Painting project this past Sunday at the Peninsula Center Library. Almost 40 people of all ages created two extra large art pieces using the traditional Japanese art technique of black ink painting. The results will be displayed in the foyer of the main library all month.
“Today’s Sumi-E project is a collaborative art piece that brings the community together to create a monumental artwork for the library. It also introduces them to APAHM by allowing them to use a traditional Japanese art medium but in a fun and inventive way,” said Ketzie Diaz, assistant manager of library operations and head of Art in Our Library.
Using materials consisting of black ink, paint brushes, and long sheets of white paper, participants were encouraged to draw whatever they liked (except names or words), add to what others had drawn, move around, and change places.
Drew Choi, 8, painted a detailed flower because she “loved the smell” of the roses she saw at the botanic garden. Addie Mollo, a sophomore at PV High School, had come to the library for a school program and stopped to doodle. She called her work “noodles go awry,” which she described as “constantly my mind at the moment.”
Many high school students took a break from AP exam preparations to paint, and agreed that it was a relaxing experience. A businessman, Loren House, described the process as “therapeutic” and said he drew seagulls because he was inspired by the “whale, fish, ocean and the roaring sea” that others had already drawn. A mother of a giggling toddler who painted circle after circle said “this was very fun!”
Works from members of the Gardena Kuwai Sumi-E Club will also be exhibited in the foyer of the main library this month. On May 24, the Sumi-E Club will conduct a hands-on workshop demonstrating traditional ink painting techniques and guiding participants in creating their own Japanese art piece. Supplies will be provided and no registration is necessary.
Art is not the only activity for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Project Directors Laura Ishizaka and Lessa Pelaya-Lozada have developed a variety of programs made possible by a grant from California Humanities, featuring the culture and history of the Japanese American community on the Peninsula.
“We are highlighting our Japanese American community for our first APAHM celebration to honor our community’s Japanese American farmers who settled the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the early 1900s and highlight our increasing and changing Asian Pacific American demographic,” said Ishizaka.
In future years, the focus will be on other Asian Pacific American groups.
This month’s events include:
• Sushi demonstration for teens;
• Bilingual story time;
• Celebration of Children’s Day;
• Screening of “The Legacy of Heart Mountain” and Q&A with ABC7 Anchor David Ono about the Japanese internment;
• Conversation with author Naomi Hirahara and local resident Naomi Hamachi on the impact of Japanese Americans on the Peninsula.
Other activities include a visit by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi to celebrate Japanese Culture Day at noon on Saturday, May 13, and learning the art of origami at Miraleste Library at 3:30 p.m. on May 31.
Rolled into this month-long program is the Passages Project Scanning Event, which invites the public to share images of family immigration stories to be added to the library’s digital repository. Residents are also encouraged to participate in the Passages Project Storytelling Event, sponsored by the California State Library, capturing the voices of immigrants and their descendants through the use of the Listening Station tool. This device, designed by Berkeley-based StoryCenter, allows conversations to be recorded and made immediately available to the participants.
A copy of the 15-30 minute recording will become part of the PVLD’s community archive and the California State Library archive to be preserved for future generations.
Rosa Kwon Easton is an attorney and writer who lives in Rolling Hills Estates. Visit her blog and website at rosakwoneaston.com.