Panel: “Exploring Cultural Roots through the Arts”

By Sarah Hedges-Chou, 2014 NATWA II Convention scholarship recipient

The final panel of the 26th Annual NATWA Convention in New Orleans was NATWA II’s “Exploring Cultural Roots through the Arts”. With organizers looking to host a diverse panel that would engage both older and younger generations, the discussion invited three Taiwanese-American women working in the arts to discuss their professional and personal journeys. The talented group of speakers included independent filmmaker, educator, and writer Anita Chang, author Julie Wu, and independent filmmaker, background artist, illustrator, and animator Hedy Yudaw. NATWA II intern Kristina Lin moderated the panel, spurring important discussions around careers in the arts, as well as the role of Taiwanese identity in shaping the work of these three artists.

Many of us were lucky enough to see Anita Chang’s most recent documentary “Tongues of Heaven” at an earlier screening at the NATWA convention. Examining the loss of indigenous languages in Taiwan and language revitalization efforts in Hawai’i, Chang’s documentary shines a light on the experiences of young indigenous women and investigates the links between language, identity and culture. Through this hard-hitting film, the question of “what do you lose when you lose your native language?” is explored.

Julie Wu’s 2013 novel “The Third Son” is a gripping work of historical fiction following disadvantaged third son, Saburo, as he navigates his way through life and love within Taiwan’s changing socio-political landscape. Starting in 1943, the story starts with the Chinese Nationalist Army take-over of the island following the Japanese occupation. Protagonist Saburo, trying to escape his oppressive family and the turbulent political environment in Taiwan during this period, seeks a new life in the United States. Mirroring the experiences of many Taiwanese immigrants to North America, Wu’s novel is at once exciting, heartbreaking, educational, and relatable for many NATWA members. Importantly, Wu’s novel also colorfully relates this unique experience of migration to descendants of Taiwanese immigrants.

A member of the Truku Tribe in Taiwan, Hedy Yudaw studied character animation at the California Institute of the Arts and received her Masters of Fine Arts in animation from the UCLA School of Film and Theatre. Working in a variety of mediums, Yudaw uses her art to give voice to marginalized peoples and to represent indigenous art forms. Her many credits include her award winning thesis, Voice, and animation work on the hit television series Community. Yudaw’s versatility and artistry were exemplified in the short but powerful clip of her work screened at the NATWA panel.

Coming from very different fields, all three artists drew upon commonalities between their experiences as Taiwanese women working in the arts in North America. They spoke to issues of sexism and racism within the arts, especially in terms of funding challenges and working in fields that are often dominated by men. As Taiwanese women, the three speakers agreed that there is some added pressure, as well as an important opportunity, to represent the Taiwanese community. Instead of shirking away from this responsibility, Chang, Wu, and Yudaw rise to the challenge, successfully using their art forms to convey the history, the diverse geography, culture and politics of Taiwanese people in their respective works. Through their use of documentary film, historical fiction and animation, Taiwanese stories, voices and art forms become more widely accessible.

Citing their different journeys into careers in the arts, the panelists agreed that family and community support played a pivotal role in their careers. Chang and Wu both began their education in more “practical” areas of study, with Julie Wu even becoming a medical doctor before recognizing her calling as a writer. The artists encouraged the audience to follow their passions and not be afraid to move beyond traditional roles and career paths. However, paraphrasing Anita Chang, a decision to follow ones passion is not always a choice, it is necessity.

The panel closed with the work of another talented Taiwanese-American artist, writer/director Karen Lin. We had the privilege to screen her highly entertaining new web series “Hungry Monster” (www.hungrymonstershow.com), which showcases Taiwanese street food. The three episodes focused on stinky tofu, batsang, and boba tea, and reveals how these foods are made in creative and fun ways that aim to share Taiwanese food culture with a wider audience.

As demonstrated by the impressive group of artists on this panel, there is no shortage of talent amongst Taiwanese-American and Taiwanese-Canadian women in the arts. With support from NATWA as well as the wider Taiwanese community, these artists have the potential to raise awareness and appreciation for Taiwanese cultural heritage in all of its nuance and diversity. Thank you to the talented Anita Chang, Julie Wu, Hedy Yudaw, and Karen Lin for sharing their art with us at the NATWA II panel; you have engaged a new generation of Taiwanese-American and Taiwanese-Canadian women.

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Big Bah-Tzangs: The Hungry Monster

By Pamela Hung, 2014 NATWA II Convention scholarship recipient

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Wouldn’t someone dressed up in a giant bah-tzang costume be funny??

This simple image was the inspiration for Karen Lin’s “Hungry Monster,” a web series that gives viewers a creative way to learn about ethnic foods (such as bah-tzangs), their origins, and how they are prepared.

Named after the Taiwanese saying yao gui, “Hungry Monster” was created for people of all ages to learn about unfamiliar foods, including Taiwanese foods. Each episode features a different food and a “Hungry Monster of the Day,” a kid with the lucky opportunity to explore the spotlight dish. So far, bah-tzang, stinky tofu, and boba tea have been featured, while oyster pancake (oah-zen) and Taiwanese burger (gua bao) are currently in the works.

With the 2nd and 3rd+ generations of Taiwanese Americans quickly growing and inspired by her own two young nephews, Lin saw the importance of Taiwanese foods as a way to bridge generations and embody culture.

“Being Taiwanese, food is always about family. We get together and eat together and it’s during that time that we share stories or catch up with each other. I wanted to share that feeling with everyone that watches it.” Lin made it a point to feature families in each episode, and to make learning about Taiwanese foods fun for people young and old, Taiwanese or not.

Lin also approached this project as a way to exercise her own creativity. Because the props didn’t exist – giant forks, giant plates, and of course, a giant bah-tzang – Lin’s production team built everything from scratch. Doing the background research and writing the scripts as well, she took on the challenge and made it her own: “it could be anything I wanted it to be.”

However, she knows that “Hungry Monster” wouldn’t have been possible without the support of ZuZu Films, Cherry Sky Productions, individual donors (including Ginru Lee from NATWA), and groups such as the Taiwanese United Fund, TaiwaneseAmerican.org, and the Taiwanese Heritage Society of Houston. And “Hungry Monster” is just getting started: she’s always looking for support to spread the word and for sponsors of future episodes.

With support from the Taiwanese American community, Lin saw her dream of a giant bah-tzang costume come true. Now, she dreams of a day when people understand the Taiwanese American identity and its food (and stop confusing it with Thailand!).

Find out how you can watch episodes of “Hungry Monster” or support this work:
URL: http://www.hungrymonstershow.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hungrymonstershow

NATWA II National Convention 2014 Hosted in New Orleans

Join the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association II (NATWA II) at the 2014 NATWA Convention in New Orleans, LA! The annual gathering brings together hundreds of Taiwanese Americans and Canadians from the 1st through 3rd generations in support of women’s issues.

Dates: Friday, April 18, 2014 – Sunday, April 20, 2014
Location: Hilton New Orleans Airport
Address: 901 Airline Drive, Kenner, LA
Website: http://natwa2.org

Convention registration forms are available at: NATWA Newsletter and Registration Form. (Note that there is a late charge for forms postmarked after March 17, 2014)

Travel scholarships are available for those in need: http://bit.ly/1fbMMo8. (Due March 9, 2014)

Note that there are separate tracks/schedules for the 1st and 2nd/3rd generations. The NATWA II students and young professionals English-speaking program will be available shortly.

Feel free to contact natwa2admin@natwa.com for more information and questions.

The purpose of NATWA II is three-fold:
(1) to establish a network consisting of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Taiwanese American and Canadian women
(2) to cultivate and promote talents among young Taiwanese American and Canadian women
(3) to preserve Taiwanese culture and promote Taiwanese American and Canadian identity.

SAVE THE DATE: NATWA 2014 Annual Convention

The NATWA 2014 Annual Convention Meeting will be from April 17-22, 2014 at the Hilton New Orleans Airport in New Orleans, LA.

Please stay tuned for the NATWA II Schedule!

“Out of Taiwan” Photography Exhibit in SoCal

Date: Sunday, February 9, 2014
Time: 2:00pm
Location: Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
Address: 695 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, CA

The NATWAII SoCal group will be visiting the Out of Taiwan: Shared Connections in the Pacific exhibit at the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum. Photographs by Danee Hazama.

The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) presents “Out of Taiwan: Shared Connections in the Pacific” exhibit October 26, 2013 to April 20, 2014 in Long Beach, California. Through the artistic lens of photographer Danee Hazama of Tahiti, French Polynesia, the shared cultural heritage between the people of the Pacific Islands and the indigenous people of Taiwan becomes apparent. Hazama will make a special appearance at the exhibit opening.

The origins of Pacific Islanders have been the subject of interest and controversy for many decades. Significant Western research in archaeology, historical linguistics and molecular genetics shows common patterns with the indigenous Taiwan people and the peoples of the Pacific Islands.

Admission Pricing:
General Admission: $5
Seniors (62+): $3
Students with ID: $3
PIEAM Members (Join Now): Free
Children under 12: Free
Current NATWA/NATWAII members will be comped. But you’re more than welcome to donate to this museum.

Info can on PIEAM can also be found on their website at http://www.pieam.org/

Feel free to contact us at natwa2admin@natwa.com, and visit our Facebook event page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/241874192659017/

NATWA II HOLIDAY POTLUCK

When – Sunday, December 15, 2013

Time – 11:00am until 2:00pm in PST

Where – The Savoy (Sports Cafe), 100 S. Alameda Street Los Angeles, CA

white elephant

Come one, come all to NATWA II’s annual holiday potluck and optional White Elephant gift exchange. Come join us with your favorite dish, drink or dessert to share with others. If you are interested in participating in a gift exchange, bring a wrapped gift ($20 max) and join the fun.

We will also be fundraising and selling our Taiwan cookie cutters and books by female Taiwanese American authors. Great gifts just in time for the holidays.

The Savoy is located on Alameda Street, between 1st and 2nd Streets in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Street parking is free on Sundays. There are also parking lots around Little Tokyo that cost approximately $5. To get in the building, call Deana Chuang on the directory to be buzzed in. We will be in the Sports Cafe.

RSVP on the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/470512679732736/

 

Making History: The Story of Su Beng (史明) crowdfundi​ng campaign

Dear NATWA II,

I’m writing because I have some major news about the biography of Su Beng!

On October 26 I launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to complete the biography of Su Beng which I began working on in 2004.  I have felt a greater sense of urgency to complete the biography of Su Beng (史明), as he turns 95 this year or 96- as it would be counted in Taiwan.  

Su Beng t-shirt
Su Beng’s life is the story of the struggle of the people of Taiwan, and, now more than ever before, I believe that telling his story will bring greater international awareness to the situation in Taiwan.
So I have decided that I need to take three months off and to go back to Taiwan to gather the remaining research needed. When I thought about this late last year, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make this happen until I realized that I should reach out to the community and the world at large for support on this. So I decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for me to complete this project.

F.Lin1

My goal is to raise $15,000 to cover the expenses for me to spend 3 months in Taipei 1) to do the additional research needed to complete the book and 2) to produce a short documentary about the life of Su Beng.
Here’s how you can help:
1) WATCH my crowdfunding video here: http://igg.me/at/makinghistory
2) SHARE and spread the word about this (I’ve included a written description below which you can cut, past and share with other by email)
3) CONNECT me with an organization/business/individual who will be able to contribute to my campaign
4) MAKE a personal contribution at: http://igg.me/at/makinghistory or in-kind donation. I will need a place to stay during my 3 month stay in Taipei. So any referrals for low cost housing or sponsorship of housing would be most helpful.
*To make an in-kind donation please contact me at: subeng.biographer{at}gmail.com

My two major expenses are airfare, and 3 months of accommodations in Taipei, so instead of a monetary donation you can make an in-kind donation such as:

1) a discounted flight ticket from New York to Taipei
2) sponsored accommodations for the entire duration or a short portion of my stay in Taipei 
3) suggestions for low cost housing options in Taipei
Important links/contact information
Making History: The Story of Su Beng  crowdfunding campaign: http://igg.me/at/makinghistory
Felicia’s website about Su Beng: www.aboutsubeng.com

Su Beng is a nonagenarian Taiwan independence activist, former undercover Chinese Communist agent, would be assassin of Chiang Kai-shek, historian and author of the book, Taiwan’s 400 Years of History. This encyclopedic, 2000 page plus book, which took about 18 years to write, is the one of the first most comprehensive books on this topic.

It has and still continues to influence generations of Taiwanese activists.

To contact Felicia Lin directly, email her at subeng.biographer{at}gmail.com or call
her at 937-696-9868.
Sincerely,
Felicia Lin