Asia North 2019 Exhibition

Asia North: Intricate Layers

Intricate Layers

Intricate Layers is the inaugural Asia North exhibition which was on view at the Motor House in Baltimore from March 29-April 28, 2019. The show highlights twenty-one Maryland-based Asian and Asian American artists whose works express, illustrate, and address their unique yet interconnected layers of experiences, histories, and identities. Some highlight cultural fusion, while others emphasize memories of family, homeland, and the challenges they have faced. Some celebrate feminine power, while others honor nature, culture, spirituality, and art. Become inspired by the intricate layers and evocative beauty of these rich and multifaceted stories of empowerment, hope, and the human spirit.

Intricate Layers Artists

Riya Ashby
Mary Champagne
Shanthi Chandrasekar
Sony Robles Florendo
Cat Gunn
Habib Hastaie
Sughra Hussainy
Sunhee Kim Jung
Myungsook Ryu Kim
Paige Dasol Kim
Yeonjung Kim
Wanjin Kim

Alif Laila
Kisook Lee-Suss
Mika J. Nakano
Sookkyung Park
Derrick Quevedo
Manzar Rassouli
Rachana Saurabh
Nahid Tootoonchi
Grace Windheim

Curated by: Nerissa Paglinauan, AA&CC Program Manager

Riya Ashby

This painting is acrylic with collaged textile. It is a personal interpretation of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi to better represent the women I knew. Lakshmi represents wealth and success, and is almost always painted as a meek, light-skinned woman surrounded with gold coins. I believe that women can and should own their wealth and their beauty, so I presented her as a bold goddess, directly addressing the viewer. I painted her as a dark-skinned woman to reject colorism, which exists all over the world, as well as in India.

Learn More About Riya Ashby 

Mary Champagne

Heavily based in archival research, my practice blends family legends and artifacts with publicly accessible historical documents that illuminate my family’s experience as interned Japanese-Americans at the Topaz Relocation Center. With formal focus on the matrix in the context of weaving and printmaking, I work to embody the dissolution and reconstruction of my inherited narrative. More broadly, my practice explores the generational repercussions of politicizing migration, and how forced relocation impacts our relationship with orientation or place.

Learn More About Mary Champagne

Shanthi Chandrasekar

The word Shakthi means energy or the goddess of strength. This painting is part of a series about the collective female energy and about how different women face life and its ups and downs. Draupadi is the heroine of the Indian epic Mahabharatha, who was born out of fire and was known for her beauty, bravery and independence. In this painting, I have tried to depict her memories of the controversial life she led involving her five husbands and their cousins who went into war against each other after she was humiliated at a dice game.

Learn More About Shanthi Chandrasekar

Kim Paige Dasol

My art defines my ideal self and dreams I strive to achieve. Creating art from the world how I interpret it, making adjustments to show what I see and feel through them. Each year of my life has shaped the way I am today. Currently, I focus heavily on creating a unique background to portray what I want to reveal about my everyday life. My art is somewhat personal, yet each one of them tells a story I want to share, which usually gets interpreted differently by audiences and I intentionally make it that way for open interpretation with imagination. My paintings represent the duality of what is real and what’s not, showing the world the way I see and improving on them. The combination of both abstract and realistic objects shows the dreamy and unexpected scenes within space.  Color brings out the memory I have in the past, and also it brings out a hope for the future. I have used specific colors in my works for myself and the viewers to imagine beyond of what they see visually and to feel the ambient atmosphere that I created. The wide variety of colors influence me heavily, I can use colors to represent what I remember in the past. I hope to give honest feelings into my work that will influence others.

Learn More About Kim Paige Dasol    

Sony Robles Florendo

A very active and involved Baltimore resident for 50 years, Sony picked up a paintbrush for the first time in 2014 at 77 years old.  She was taught at an art class by Lim Cruz, a former classmate from the University of the Philippines. They had graduated with degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics.  Josie, who continued on to a degree in Fine Arts from the same university, and an award winning artist, nudged Sony to “just paint!” And with Josie’s encouragement, Sony did just that.

Starting off painting scenes of her childhood memory as a naïf painter, she has since developed a preference for abstracts with brilliant, happy colors technique and splashes that allow the viewer to interpret whatever they want to see.

As a result of the happiness and joy Sony has gotten from being able to create something beautiful and spontaneous, she has found it to be a valuable therapy for being able to hurdle numerous health issues she has had to deal with in the years since.  As a result, she has been steadily advocating the use of art as a form of healing, including being a featured story-teller about the power of art and healing with StoryCorps.

Sony has exhibited with the Women’s Heritage Center in Baltimore, Brown Strokes on White Canvas in Prince George’s County and Washington DC,  and Global Liver Institute exhibit at the Washington Convention Center.  She was one of the two featured artists at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC during the 2016 National Arts Month, a celebration of Philippine art worldwide.  She also had a solo exhibit at the Three Arts Club in Baltimore.  

Sony wants to inspire the artist within us all, with these words “Everything in art is ok! There are no mistakes.”

StoryCorps Episode about Sony

Cat Gunn

My current paintings revolve around the notion of creating space, particularly through abstraction from a queer perspective with a playful awkwardness. These self-contained worlds are made up of repeating stripes, gradated forms, twisted squiggles, and organic shapes. Skewed geometry with hard edges flirt with expressive grounds and fields of color, creating an ambiguous space that is dizzying, strange, and dynamic. The quirky geometry and irregularity of patterns allow for vulnerable and imperfect moments, and are equally about sameness as they are about difference. The work, both as physical objects and as windows into an illusionistic world, suggests a transfer between states—erratic and ever-evolving.

Learn More About Cat Gunn

Habib Hastaie

My artwork is inspired by traditions of the peoples along the Silk Road. Merchants, scholars, and artists traveled throughout the region and exchanged ideas, beliefs, and aesthetics. I try to interpret these different strands of experiences. I incorporate into my work the vivid colors of Persian miniatures and teahouse paintings, the rich narratives of theatrical storytelling and profound poetry, and the rhythms of traditional music and mystical chanting emanating from Sufi circles. Through my artwork, I aspire to give Marylanders who have not ventured along the Silk Road new insights into the multifaceted world that was once home to some of their friends, co-workers, or neighbors with the hope that cross-cultural exchange will enrich each of us.

Learn About Habib Hastaie

Sughra Hussainy

Hussainy painted this miniature while she was a student at Turquoise Mountain Institute, an art school in Kabul, the Afghan capital. She began with the shansa, the circular design, and then filled the interior with a lyrical scene in which a woman plays a tamboura while kneeling beside a stream. The woman is a quiet radical. Despite the tranquil air, she makes a bold statement, since women in Afghanistan typically are forbidden to play music. 

Learn More About Sughra Hussainy

Sunhee Kim Jung

Colors and forms of nature hold the power to heal the hurt. As I journeyed through the north, the changing texture of the landscape and the changing colors soothed my soul. I have a positive perspective on life and my art is influenced and inspired at each moment by passion and emotional sense. Those conflicts became one of the characteristics of my artwork that evokes emotion. I am working on a series of paintings and drawings highlighting nature scenes with some iconic images. You can see the changing character of Jack the mouse as he strolls through life. Jack, little mouse is the mouse represent small life in a big world. It's about surviving, thriving and living large. After the completion of 27 feet long silk drawing, Jack became the star of my new series with oil on canvas.

Learn More About Sunhee Kim Jung

Myungsook Ryu Kim

My work is an experiment with transferring traditional East Asian art forms onto the Western canvas. I have innovatively adapted the Asian themes of nature, earth, heaven, flowers, and ancient Chinese characters. The abstract images and forms embody complex layers of the spiritual and emotional. The rough surface enhances visual depth and life. I want to express the living energy that Korean artists try to capture onto a one dimensional surface. These paintings exemplify the juxtaposition of East and West. Fused together are the philosophies of the East with the media techniques of the West. One of the most important elements in East Asian art is the line. My painting echoes and emphasizes the calligraphic line. This is a continuous living line made with one stroke.

Learn More About Myungsook Ryu Kim

Wanjin Kim

The modern society is developing so fast. Despite the convenience, many people feel emptiness in their hearts. Now, we are living in the twenty first century with lots of modern materials such as computers, machineries, and disposable things everywhere just for the one time using. I feel like something is missing and fading away in our hearts. That is the historical culture. We are existing now because our ancestors have been through the days before we were born. Sometimes I find very beautiful and clever tools from antiques. We can start new things and create modernity but, we should remember that modernity and mechanism come from based on the fading away treasures and passing away history.

Learn More About Wanjin Kim

Yeonjung Kim

The confusion followed by the drastic change in environment is depicted in this painting. Adjusting in the cultural collision and barrier have dominated past eight years of my life and I am still trying to overcome and find the right place for me. My paintings concentrate on the similarities and dependencies between layers and time. The process of painting is dependent on the time it takes to build layers of paint. It seems like the layer-and-time relationship is destroyed, when an earlier layer is covered up, but in reality, it is maintained by continuously building paint over one another, and the hints of old marks still remain, creating a palimpsest. Moving to new cities and countries, experiencing different cultures and environments, have created my layers of marks. When I immigrated to the U.S. from Korea as a teen, the change in environment effected the repetitive and enduring process of construction and deconstruction. Furthermore, memory and sensation are often altered by time. Sometimes, I remember things differently. Therefore, memory is ambiguous, lacking a substance. Accordingly, my works do not consist of figures or any recognizable objects. There is no narrative, but purely abstract, which conveys the most about memory and sensation.

Learn More About Yeonjung Kim

Alif Laila

I was born and brought up in Bangladesh, the land of rivers and vibrant nature. I am a watercolorist and a sitar player, experiencing the flow of life in both my mediums of expressions. Each set of watercolors, in this collection, depicts the journey of inspiration from my origin (Bangladesh), to the universality of my transformation in expression of the core feeling: ‘Humanity is deeply bonded with resonance of nature’.

Learn More About Alif Laila

Kisook Lee-Suss

In this work Korean-American artist, Kisook Lee-Suss, honors a sculpture that is found in the Korea National Treasures collection of a gilt-bronze statue of Maitreya Bodhisattva. It was created by an unknown artist in Korea. She has reproduced the image in this painting, offering her own interpretation of its original meaning: Maitreya: The Bodhisattva of the Future Buddha at the Hall of Maitreya Buddha. Maitreya (lit. "Loving One") was predicted by Sakyamuni Buddha to be the next Buddha on earth. In order to save all living beings who did not find salvation through the teachings of the Sakyamuni Buddha, he was designed to reign in the Tushita heaven and preach to heavenly beings until his incarnation, which, according to Buddhist belief, will occur 5670 million years after the Lord Buddha's demise. His hand seals are the “fulfilling-wishes mudra” and the “dispelling-fear mudra.” The sculpture’s strong sense of identity speaks to us down through the centuries, connecting old to new, in a kind of timeless fusion of past, present, and future. In Meditation the artist shares the treasure with the world-at-large. Her aim is to present an image that can be loved by all people, not just those who have visited the museum. In so doing she explores how Korean spiritual culture interrelates with all similar cultures worldwide. Its pleasing message voicelessly educates and teaches hope and comfort to humanity.

Learn More About Kisook Lee-Suss

Mika Nakano

From my mother's lullaby of baby elephants to nursery rhymes I didn't quite understand, I learned to understand my life as an Asian American, never identifying as Asian, never "looking" like an American, to be a magical life of its own, a character torn between what is told is real, and what I believed is real. I found comfort in myths and folktales, where a story is as is, and never judged. My work as an illustrator and performer, I share my vision of these stories I heard once, read once, and were sung to me once, as my way of partaking in this ritual of storytelling. I often merge abstraction and realism to embrace the real/unreal and hope that anyone taking a second to observe, will find a connection with my choices, and find new ways of understanding the stories.

Learn More About Mika J. Nakano

Sookkyung Park

A few years ago, I had immigration with my family, keeping in mind the curiosity, excitement, and fear of the uncertain future of the new country. During the flight to America, I looked down a beautiful landscape which induced unbearable mixed feelings and thoughts. To this painting, I recalled the idea at that moment, and expressed my emotions and experience using mixed media on canvas. Resin and yellow, with Acrylic Paint, reflect my hope and optimism during the flight. Other colors, with oil paints, in the painting illustrate my unstable emotions.

Learn More About Sookkyung Park

Derrick Quevedo

Learn More About Derrick Quevedo

Manzar Rassouli

Simplicity and complexity, form and formlessness, unity and separation, existence and nonexistence. Being inspired by spirituality, science, literature, psychology, philosophy, music and other aspects of eastern and western culture, examining life and its essence on both sides of the spectrum through series or works, expressing thoughts and feelings on human experience of love, separation, unity, endurance, longing and finally the triumph of human unified soul, embracing and achieving authentic self. The power of presence, unity, peace and loving consciousness.

Learn More About Manzar Rassouli

Rachana Saurabh

Rachana Saurabh is a Self-taught artist, jewelry designer, art teacher, wife, mother and engineer by education. She portrays Indian woman in contemporary style. Her paintings are inspired by gorgeous Indian folk art and traditions with bright and beautiful colors that will represent authenticity of Indian women in culturally rich way. Through her canvases, she expresses the self-expression of the subject, revealing their suppressed emotions and natural beauty in artistic way. Since childhood, she was passionate about painting and won many awards. Her husband’s support, reader’s feedback and positive comments inspired her to take art at new dimension. Her work has been displayed in art galleries in Maryland and Washington DC area. Soon after her discovery to a new medium Polymer clay, she launched her handcrafted jewelry Label “Mitti Designs” in 2012. she is volunteering at community programs, and fund-raising events to give back to the community. She currently teaches contemporary art to kids and takes art session to keep the Tribal art alive.

Learn More About Rachana Saurabh

Nahid Tootoonchi

I have always been fascinated by the magical effect of pen and ink on paper. As a graphic designer encountering the replacement of traditional tools with digital technology, I find a meditative state in calligraphy. During the past five years I have immersed myself in learning Persian calligraphy and studying Chinese, Devanagari and Hebrew calligraphy. I have been researching the history of calligraphy and its importance in cultural identity. In addition, I studied many master calligrapher’s art works, tools and their intention behind their art. I have practiced and witness how harmony in life is achieved by practicing this art. Above all, I have noticed how we all use the letterform as an abstract form to express our individual value of beauty and aesthetic in evoking emotion. We all come to meet at one point; to express our unique cultural identity. It is in this natural form I find an infinite wisdom in gravitating toward a basic way of living.

Learn More About Nahid Tootoonchi

Grace Windheim

This is a pen and ink drawing of my brother. It captures the idea that we have an impulse to view only a few layers of a person and make assumptions. I’ve experienced this my whole life, becoming frustrated when people assumed I was only American or Chinese or Singaporean, yet we assume things about people all the time. Yet even within a few layers a person can have intricacy and detail unimaginable that comes with every person’s story. There is so much more to a person’s story than we can imagine; none of us fit perfectly within prescribed categories. Through photos and drawings, I capture pieces of Asia and of my feelings as I come to terms with my multi-layered background—I’ve been American since birth, and have visited relatives in New York every year, but I don’t really feel American. I’m used to the hustle and bustle of Asia. In Asia, though, many people see me as Caucasian. I became familiar with peoples’ surprised expressions when I told them I’m Chinese and can speak Chinese. Before, I considered nowhere to be home. Now, I feel at home everywhere, including Maryland. Through this exhibit, I want to bring my pieces of Asia and my journey to find place in my new home. What I’ve learned from all this is that we’re not so different after all –even Asia and Maryland have their similarities.

Learn More About Grace Windheim

Intricate Layers Exhibition Sponsors
Special thanks to Michelle Lee, Charles North Community Association, Station North Arts District, Midtown Baltimore, Neighborhood Housing Services, AA&CC members, Baltimore Asian Pasifika Arts Collective, Charm City Night Market, Ki Chan Park, Yong-Yeon Ji, Ock-Kyung Lee, Go Eun Kang, Ami Dang, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore Jewelry Center, Baltimore Kawasaki Sister Cities Committee, and Phounam Pin.