A panel discussion focusing on the varied relationships different Diaspora communities have with the mythological & folklore stories of their culture of origin. We are specifically interested in interrogating the ways in which different communities invest in or distance themselves from their ancient/classical mythology and folklore in the American Diaspora, and how those relationships have shifted over time. We will examine this question through both an academic & artistic lens.
Anna Cai (they/them) is a queer Indonesian Chinese American community-driven artist currently living in Chicago who explores the futurities of Asian diasporic identity through relationships, textiles, costume, performance, film, graphic design, and print media. At the center of their creative and social practice is a desire to steer their community into a future that embraces a transformation of fiction and reality and rejects outdated constructs of nation, gender and capital.
Cai has received multiple awards for their work in art, design, and community engagement. They were a finalist in Lesotho Fashion Week of 2018 and their work in film has been selected for Lesotho Film Festival between the years of 2018-2020. Most recently they were a recipient of the 2020 New Artist Society scholarship, the 2022 Caxton Book Club grant, and Graphic Design USA’s 2022 Students to Watch Award. They are also a member of the 2022 Spring Tanda Artist Research fellowship program hosted by Chuquimarca Art Library in Chicago, Illinois. They have collaborated with several organizations internationally including the Morija Arts Centre, The Hub in Morija, Lesotho Girls in Tech, the Public Housing Authority of Residents in Charlottesville, the White House Kitchen Garden initiative, and the Chinese Historical Society of Memphis & the Midsouth. They have initiated numerous independent publications and initiatives such as The Morija Makers (2018), Stories from Westhaven (2016), and the upcoming Chicago-based independent magazine Tongues (2022).
They received a BS in Architecture from the University of Virginia. In 2016 to 2018 they served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho. Upon leaving the organization, Cai apprenticed with a local textile artist and began exploring identity expression through wearable sculpture and performance. During this time, they gained invaluable experience on how to build trusting relationships and engage in art-making that embraces an art practice at the intersection of community building, education, and design. They recently completed an MFA Visual Communication program at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago where they were immersed in rituals that combine mythology, pleasure, play, historical fabulation, and the reclaiming of archives.
Dr. Katherine Kelaidis is the Director of Research and Content at the National Hellenic Museum. She has held research appointments at the American University in Cairo, Oxford University, and the Free University Berlin. She is also a Senior Editor at Religion Dispatches. Dr. Kelaidis holds a B.A. in Classical Languages from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of London.
Cori Nakamura Lin a midwest-based Japanese//Taiwanese-American illustrator and designer specializing in movement art and culture-centered storytelling. By visualizing narratives and illuminating concepts, Cori makes art that fuels action. Some current projects include illustrating curriculum covering Japanese American Resettlement to Chicago in partnership with Katherine Nagasawa, JASC, and the JACS Grant, and illustrating Cori’s sister, Jami Nakamura Lin’s, forthcoming book The Night Parade.
Jami Nakamura Lin is the author of the illustrated speculative memoir The Night Parade (Mariner/HarperCollins and Scribe UK, 2023). A Catapult columnist, she’s been published in The New York Times, Electric Literature, Passages North, the anthology What God is Honored Here? (U. Minnesota Press) and other publications. She received a 2016 National Endowment of the Arts and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, and a 2015 Walter Dean Myers Grant from We Need Diverse Books. Her work interrogates mythology, monstrosity, mental illness, and motherhood.
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Moderator: Cairo Dye, NHM Programs & Events Manager