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Art exhibit explores Asian diaspora experiences, with works by artists from Los Angeles, China, Korea – Pasadena Star News

Art exhibit explores Asian diaspora experiences, with works by artists from Los Angeles, China, Korea – Pasadena Star News

The upcoming art exhibit, “(Be)Longing: Asian Diasporic Crossings,” will be held at the Glendale Central Library from July 20 to September 22. The image is a still from “Chorus of The Displaced,” 2024, by artist Kyong Boon Oh. (Courtesy of Kyong Boon Oh)

GLENDALE – Anahid Oshagan and Ara Oshagan know a thing or two about diasporas.

The Armenian couple and the curators of the ReflectSpace Gallery at the Glendale Library, Department of Arts and Culture, come from families that have experienced immigration and displacement from their homelands.

Both of their families are originally from Western Armenia and have survived on different continents, but the couple eventually settled in Southern California.

Given this backdrop, their latest project is no unknown territory. ReflectSpace Gallery will host an art exhibit titled “(Be)Longing: Asian Diasporic Crossings” at the Glendale Central Library from July 20 to September 22.

The exhibition will feature seven works by Asian artists from Los Angeles, Korea and China.

As the ReflectSpace Gallery website states, “it explores multi-generational histories of war, displacement, and the formation of East and West Asian diasporas through maps, sculpture, photography, archives, video, and multi-layered materiality.”

Through the artworks on display, the exhibition asks viewers to consider the history, space, and narrative of diaspora. The art will explore the concept of belonging through historical events, borders, war, and displacement.

Artists will present their individual journeys and concepts of belonging.

“We like to include witness narratives, people who have been affected by the issues we’re working on,” says Anahid Oshagan. “So immersive, experiential, and testimonial narratives are really strong elements of the exhibits we curate.”

The upcoming art exhibition, “(Be)Longing: Asian Diasporic Crossings,” will be held at the Glendale Central Library from July 20 to September 22. The image is an archival pigment print on canvas, pin, stainless steel thread/copper/aluminum wire, 2024, by artist Kyong Boon Oh. (Courtesy of Kyong Boon Oh)

Artists featured include: Annette Miae Kim, Kyong Boon Oh, Sun Siran, Xia Yan, Gil Woong Kim, Donah Lee and Jennifer Cheh.

Ara Oshagan said ReflectSpace Gallery is one of the few art spaces dedicated exclusively to social justice issues.

He explained that what matters is “how the community learns different stories, how the artists reflect those stories, how the artists look at the community and heal over time.”

“We understand and strive to be inclusive of diverse communities that also come from fractured backgrounds and experiences,” said Anahid Oshagan. “That common ground really makes it easy for us to work well with the diverse communities and artists that are represented in the current exhibitions at ReflectSpace.”

Annette Miae Kim is an artist and associate professor at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC. This will be her first exhibition at ReflectSpace Gallery.

“I’m Korean-American, and both my parents emigrated from North and South Korea,” Kim said. “A lot of my work is about trying to feel like I belong in this world. My family is refugees, immigrants, citizens and foreigners living abroad.”

Kim, who is currently working on scroll maps, said her work is about movement, language and showing how people communicate. According to Kim, connection, although explored through various cultural works of art, is a “fundamental human problem.”

“I hope we connect with each other, with ourselves and with the place,” Kim said when asked what she expected from the exhibition.

“It’s really important that people have their own space and that we can get to know each other,” Kim said. “And that we’re not enclaves with borders.”

The Oshagans strive for this.

“We are products of displacement,” said Anahid Oshagan. “We are descendants of survivors of genocide.”

Anahid Oshagan is a lawyer, social activist and curator. Ara Oshagan is a photographer, multidisciplinary artist and curator.

ReflectSpace opened at the Glendale Central Library in 2017 at the request of the Glendale City Council “to create an urban space to address the Armenian Genocide and other human atrocities,” the gallery’s website states. “ReflectSpace is an exhibition space designed to explore and reflect on genocides, human rights violations, and civil rights violations.”

“The themes and principles are very close to us and part of our DNA, which is why we embrace and reflect them through our activism and daily life,” said Anahid Oshagan.

The Oshagan couple expanded the ReflectSpace Gallery to become not only a center for artistic activity, but also a place for discussion of social issues.

“We expanded and made it much broader,” said Anahid Oshagan. “We touched on a lot of social justice issues, including the mass incarceration industrial complex, the Holocaust, slavery, the Native American genocide, and the Korean comfort women, which affects a large portion of the Korean American community here in Glendale and surrounding areas.”

Artist Kim encouraged visitors to be curious and learn about different people and communities.

“There are so many divisions growing,” Kim said. “The more we can build relationships, conversations and hopefully empathy with a sense of solidarity and connection, the more important that is.”

Anahid Oshagan hopes visitors will take time to explore and reflect on these issues.

“One of the most important goals is to increase awareness, understanding and compassion,” she said. “And of course, to act on all of the above.”

The exhibition opens July 27 and runs July 20–September 22 at the Glendale Central Library, 222 East Harvard Street, Glendale.

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