By Aaron Zhang and Stellan Min
Min Jin Lee is the New York Times bestselling author of "Free Food For Millionaires" and "Pachinko." Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Queens, New York, Ms. Lee studied at the Bronx High School of Science and at Yale University. On March 17, Ms. Lee graciously met with Stellan Min and Aaron Zhang over Zoom to talk about literature, identity, and history.
Q: How did immigrating and growing up in Queens, New York inspire you? What was your experience attending elite institutions like Yale and the Bronx High School of Science?
A: I loved growing up in Queens, and I love the Bronx High School of Science, not because I'm a science student, but because I know that it's possible for people of different backgrounds to live in peace, to form a community. If I grew up in a monoracial environment, it would just be imagination. I think that I have a stronger vantage point because of my experiences of heterogeneity and diversity and inclusiveness. It's not perfect, but it's possible. And that gives me an enormous amount of strength about the things that I argue about.
By Aaron Zhang
“I would describe myself usually as a person of words,” Mehek Gosalia said. This may seem counterintuitive, considering how she incorporates STEM in art—in our conversation, she made coding analogies to describe her work. However, she explained that she uses technological and artistic mediums to explore non-verbal communication.
By NhiVan Tran and Hallie Xu
Recently, Sia’s movie “Music” incited heavy criticism due to the film’s problematic portrayal of autism. This controversy brings up the underlying issue of prejudice and representation in arts and entertainment. We were fortunate to sit down with Naomi André to discuss this lingering trend in the art industry. André’s speech was a blend of vivid personal experiences and lessons from operas, all framed by her research around representation of race and gender in artistic settings. André currently works with the Seattle Opera as the inaugural Scholar in Residence.
In the opera community, racial issues pertain to both the material they perform and the representation in cast. André first began her diversity work for the Seattle Opera as a panelist for the operas “Porgy and Bess'' and “Carmen,” eventually leading her to a consulting role with the company. While both of these works contain art that is highly regarded and appreciated, they contain racial negative stereotypes that needed to be addressed, raising the question “how do you bring a story like [Porgy and Bess], and introduce both the white and the non-Black, and the Black communities to this?” This was where André first stepped in and what she continues to advise on today.
By Aaron Zhang
Michael Johnson explores different emotions through his vibrant doodle art pieces. In his piece about 2020, “CANCELLED,” he layers drawings of an Amazon package, a BLM hashtag, him graduating, a hornet nearly blending into the background, and one of his signature characters giving a thumbs-up to the viewer. He shows a range of colors and directions depicting the nuances, both happy and sad, of the year.
By Estelle Lee
In many ways, I am a part of the Yi Family: my own last name stems from the same Korean surname, I deliver messages to my grandmother through my mother, and I’m told to pray every night before bedtime. I’ve yet to befriend a Korean war veteran or work as a chicken sexer, but still every phrase and moment of “Minari” felt oddly familiar to me—and each poignant shot could make it feel like home for anyone.
“Minari” is director Lee Isaac Chung’s first partially autobiographical film diving into his childhood in the Ozarks as the son of Korean immigrants. The film grabs at parts of Chung’s boyhood but instead brings a new family into the picture: the Yis. Composed of Mr. Jacob Yi, the ambitious father; Monica, the skeptical mother; David, the youngest American-born son; Anne, the daughter of the family; and Soonja, Monica’s mother, the family navigates through their new life together on the acres of Arkansas soil that they call home. Having moved his family from California, Jacob is determined to create a “big garden,” a Garden of Eden that could save his family and make a better future for his children—Jacob’s attitude and work ethic is one that is easily recognizable when sharing an immigrant experience. But at its core, “Minari” is more than just another story about the American Dream. The film focuses on the turmoil of a family faced with tragedy and the connections that make that calamity worthwhile.
By Anya Shukla
Mario Orallo-Molinaro loves all things improv. He first immersed himself in the art form during his time at Western Washington University, where he performed with the Dead Parrots Society, and has since acted all over the city. Then, in 2020, Orallo-Molinaro replaced his "performer hat" with that of an arts administrator: he is now the Executive Artistic Director at Jet City Improv. I sat down with him to learn more about his past in theater and plans for Jet City’s future.
Q: Just out of curiosity, why improv?
A: Improv is revolutionary. You’re the actor, the director, the screenwriter, the creator all within seconds. And improvers speak secrets out loud so we can heal together. We bring the funny and then we give you some truth.
By Jessica Liu
“Poetry started as a way for me to be proud of what I am,” Jasmine Kapadia said. The sixteen-year-old poet’s freeform, lowercase poetry—enriched by her hauntingly specific word choice and versatile use of language—exemplifies her pride in all aspects of her identity
By Aaron Zhang and Anya Shukla
Angel Blue is an operatic soprano who has performed lead roles and solos at the Los Angeles Opera, the Frankfurt Opera, and the Berlin Philharmonic, among others. She has played characters such as Violetta in "La Traviata," Musetta and Mimi in "La Bohème," and Tosca in "Tosca." We spoke with her to learn more about her artistic journey.
By Anya Shukla
A huge thanks to Agastya Kohli and Pratidhwani for featuring myself and my co-founder, Kathryn Lau, on The Green Room! We had a great time discussing The Collective's origins, our goals for the organization, and what we'd like to see in the arts world. If you missed the event, you can still watch the recording here. As we said during our conversation, stay tuned for exciting updates from The Collective about our goals moving into 2021!
By Aaron Zhang
Aislin Alancheril used to worry about attending large parties or dances. As a singer, she didn’t want to accidentally start screaming, which could damage her vocal cords. But now, she’s found a solution: “If people are screaming, I will sing opera,” she laughed.