"The People First!" | Gallery Opening Highlights by EMW Bookstore

We had an amazing gallery opening last Friday! The latest exhibit, "The People First!" featured five visual artists and organizations from the Greater Boston Area, each bringing to light their experiences and issues surrounding gentrification.

"Against-Gentrification Mural", a large participatory art piece, measured 30ft across and was organized by artists Wen-ti Tsen, Jasmine Lee, and Carolyn Chou from the Chinese Progressive Association. Wen-ti and the team invited the Chinatown community to a "paint-in", where participants from all backgrounds and skill-levels were encouraged to add to the collective piece.

Facing the mural, on the opposite wall, are pieces from individual artists. Spanning the pillar that borders the gallery entrance is a large hand-lettered graphic reading, “THE PEOPLE FIRST!”, by Boston street artist, SOEMS.  Gallery visitors were encouraged by the artist to “add their mark,” as a spontaneous idea inspired by the "Against-Gentrification Mural". 

Next to the pillar is an installation titled “StreetChange,” created by MIT Media Lab students, Mia Petkova and Nikhil Nail. Set up to resemble an innocuous deskspace, an interactive website on a computer screen displays side-by-side photos of city blocks from 2007 and 2014, pulled directly from the Google Maps API. Using a computer vision algorithm, StreetChange lets visitors view the places that have experienced the greatest level of change on a city-scale.

At the far end hangs a triptych by Jesus Morales. The three pieces symbolize the young artist's experience as a resident in East Boston, watching the process of gentrification repeatedly batter his neighborhood. With his distinct style of ink drawings, Jesus depicts the anxiety and chaos he feels as one of many who have been forced to leave where they call home. 

During the opening reception, poet Tariana V. Little performed 2 intimate pieces that recounted experiences of displacement, getting uprooted, and left unwanted. Tariana's words summarized both the vulnerability and the resistance of individuals in urban centers today.

East Meets Beats #15 Podcast by EMW Bookstore

Listen to our lineup of performers chat before their EMB showcase. We have producer SUBDAIO, co-fouder of indie record label, Flow-fi, visiting EMW Bookstore from New Jersey! Podcast hosted by our homie Ludjy aka Hollowz, he prompt questions that led to the fam discussing equipment, first time playing, and first tracks they produced.

Ludjy: "So when you guys first started... how did you feel when you made your first real track?"
Subdaio: "My first real track that I made was probably back in 2012 and when I made it I thought it was the dopest thing I made. When I look back at it now, probably not, but it was still cool. you know. Because it was the first track you made. it was a special place in your heart. It's like owning your first car."

Shoutout to our Creative Director, Jeffrey Cott who goes by Kansado, also played at EMB #15; and Keizo Amakawa aka K-ZO representing San Diego.

Listen to the podcast here


EMB #15 | 30 Minute DJ Set by K-ZO by EMW Bookstore

Our fam, Keizo Amakawa aka K-ZO just released this DJ set from our latest East Meets Beats! A half hour of juicy goodness that will have your reliving this amp experience! It is crazy to believe this is Keizo first set ever.

Tracklist:
MEDASIN. - purgatory (@officialmedasin)
Souleance - Georgian Kiss (@souleance)
Ben Jamin'' - Bonita Sucia W.disfnk (@influencebeats)
blank body - HIGHRISE (@1812922)
C Y G N. - Sunset (@cygn-artist)
blank body - OPAL EASE (@1812922)
Alexander Lewis - Thank You (@alexanderjlewis)
Chahine - Sad Boy (@chahinesounds)
Kan-G - KINGS OF NEVERLAND (@kan-g)
Duskus - The First Route (@duskus)
Zuper - Stick With It (@zuper6)
Electric Mantis - Apollo (@electricmantis)
Otang - Where Were You In ’92 (@otang-uk)
rage logic - grind (@ragelogic)
fzpz - practise taichi (@fzpz)
KỊⱣ - Leansnake (@kip)
BeauDamian - Let’s Go! (@beaudamian)
oshi - pink (rough) (@oshimakesmusic)

10th Anniversary of EAST MEETS WORDS by EMW Bookstore

KONG: Family, THANK YOU ALL for an epic, historic, evening of love, legacy, and inspiration!!! MNTN, it was such an honor to have y'all rock the house! Theresa, Derek, and Taiyo, thank you for your music, spirit, and fellowship over the years. Chucky, brother, your spirit stays with us always. Gene and Jeff, welcome to the Homeward band ;) And gratitude to all of the amazing organizers—Amanda, Ricky, Ellie, Christine, Simone, Alahna, Keizo, Kai, Rob, Jeff (again), and more....

And a very special thank you to every single person who's ever summoned the courage to take a deep breath and share of themselves on the mic. To all of the family who've come to the bookstore to share their 2nd Fridays of the month with us...we love you. 10 years of East Meets Words—and we're just getting started!!

10th Anniversary of East Meets Words Family Photo!

KAI: Damn, I want to take some time to reflect on how bomb this 10th anniversary open mic was, man. I should note that my good friend, poet slash comic book artist, immigrant youth mentor, and Gryffindor supremacist VyVy Trinh (pictured here holding a phone) introduced me to East Meets words back in 2008 when she brought a bunch of us up from Brown University to kick it at the open mic. That year, VyVy and I were working as peer counselors for students of color at Brown and she brought Magnetic North to campus as part of Southeast Asian Heritage Week. We all got plugged in to this arts and activism community up here in Boston and I look back on those early days with much passion and nostalgia.

That made it a special honor to see Magnetic North and Taiyo Na perform here at EMW. I was impressed by their stage presence and I was feeling all of their songs, man. I thought they had tremendous emotional impact, from the anthem of inclusion "We Belong" to the light and breezy "Summertime." Shout out to my time in Vermont. Actually no, fuck my time in Vermont. So yo, Derek, Theresa, and Taiyo could all spit mad proficiently, but they each had a distinct style.

Derek AKA Direct was the technical virtuoso of the group, man. Dude had outstanding breath control and delivery and I later had a conversation with him on the Red Line (on the way to Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown) about how he came to develop that level of dopeness. I would tell you the conclusions of that conversation, but then I'd have to kill you. Yung Theresa AKA T-Vu was like the spiritual center of the group, man. Her shit just had mad depth and made you feel shit intensely. Landlord's girlfriend Mylinh Hoang was remarking to me that she and her friends freak out over that one line in the song "New Love" when T says:

"and we're vietnamese of course i feel ya
love how your name is so phonetically familiar
from the same homeland we got the same symmetry
from the same language where love means injury"

That's what I'm talkin bout right there, family. And then you got Taiyo. Yo when I seen this dude for the first time, I swear I seen a glow around him or something, like his aura or whatever. Shout out to Rick James. Now Taiyo ain't no joke on the mic, but what really stood about his contribution to the performance was the fact that this dude could really hold down them vocal cords on some young Sinatra shit. I mean Taiyo's got that dual threat. He's like a more progressive, better looking Japanese-American Drake and shit. What I'm trying to say is that he can sing.

In any case, the open mic was dope, man. Ten years of Asian American art and community organizing, and here's to ten more. The elders done laid down a strong foundation for us to continue to build and grow. As for ya boy, it brings me simultaneous pain and joy to report that I'll be moving to New York City in June of this year (i.e. two months from now) to pursue a residency in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Shout out to Columbia and Cornell. I'm affiliated with so many Ivy League schools now that my moms is only mildly disappointed in me.

Holler at me if you in the city. Stay creating.

VIEWS FROM VERMONT by Kai Huang

WHAT UP Y'ALL.

Kai Huang here currently writing from Stratton Mountain Ski Resort in Stratton, VT. I've been here for about a week seeing patients in the urgent care clinic at the base of the mountain as part of the Harvard Medical School "Skiing Injuries and Family Practice" elective, and I already miss the fairly racist but at least racially diverse greater Boston area that I sadly left on Super Bowl Sunday (shout out to all you white people who use coded language to talk about how certain Seahawks players are a bad influence for the youth!!).

So, the thing is, I didn't realize this when I signed up for the elective, but Vermont is over 96% white according to the 2010 U.S. Census (thanks to Creative Director Jeff Cott AKA Kid Koala for this article). So in honor of that, today's post, entitled "VIEWS FROM VERMONT" will actually just be me highlighting some good old fashioned racism here in this lovely mountain state!

That's right. It's another long-awaited edition of "Fucked Up Things White People Do for 1,000, Alex." One of my favorite segments here at EMW.

FIRST UP, this humorous and tragic article forwarded to me by our exceptionally well organized yet persistently whiny and nap-prone Assistant Director slash flower picking enthusiast Amanda Zhang, known to (a) make plans and (b) put them into action. Click the image below for that full article!

LATIN STATE MOTTO

Ahh I can't lie, I love it when stuff like this happens. Sometimes you just need an event like this to help white people let us know how they really feel! Because other times, it can be kind of hard to tell.

ALRIGHT NEXT, a series of choice quotes from my supervisors at the clinic, who are esteemed physicians on faculty at Harvard and other white institutions in the northeastern United States. Here are my favorites from the week:

"I was amazed at how little these students were learning. But you know, at the time, Harvard was under a lot of pressure to admit 'disadvantaged' students, who probably wouldn't have won in a fair and equal election."

"These days, you can't even ask if someone's male or female. I saw a form the other day that said Male, Female, or Neutral... or Trans, it must have been. I said to myself, 'What is the world coming to?'" (LOL this one's a bonus, for all you transphobic and oppressively gender conforming ass clowns out there!)

"Ah, damn it. They need to give me some real utensils." I respond, "What, did they give you plastic?" ... "No, they gave me chopsticks." Motherfucker, (a) I'm Asian and I'm standing right in front of you and (b) YOU EATING SUSHI RIGHT NOW.

Given, I ain't say shit in response to any of these comments because med school kind of conditions you to never speak out against bigoted authority figures. Beats it out of you, etc. I'm only comfortable posting this slander about my unnamed supervisors on the internet because I don't believe they'll find it before graduation (May 28, 2015). If you guys do see this though, I'm just playing! I love you and Harvard Medical School.

BOOM AND LAST. This one's not too fucked up, but just kinda made me chuckle. Peep this dope ass Oriental food aisle at the Shaw's over in nearby Manchester, VT:

ORIENTAL FOOD AISLE

Lol. Oh H-Mart Cambridge how I miss you so. We should have a white aisle there, call it Caucasoid or something. For all your mayo, bread, and police force needs! Credit Manda for the tagline.

Alright that's all for now, fam. Stay tuned for blog posts on the most recent EMW Gallery Opening AKA Fresh Friday featuring Evelyn's moms Jane Kuang, East Meets Beats (beets?) #12 featuring GOLDBLOC, and possibly some other shit if I can get our staff to stop playing Pokemon Yellow. You already know. Pika pika.

<3 K

PAMANGAN POP-UP RESTAURANT VOL. 3 by Kai Huang

PAMANGAN

Boom.

Yo so it's Kai again, coming at you from the road on some young Kerouac. Right now though, I want to take some time to reflect on a bomb ass meal I had last Saturday night in my own apartment back at EMW.

Our esteemed colleague, Programs Director and Bellatrix Lestrange look-alike Ellie Tiglao AKA The Nineteenth Amendment AKA 30 is the new 17 AKA Ms. AKA AKA the Woman In Black in the photo above came through with her brother RJ and a small army of Asian women and white men (see photo evidence below) to prepare some dope Filipino food for young Cambridge. Fortunately, that included me on this particular evening.

Ellie, RJ, and a small army of Asian women and white men. Shouts to young Alexis looking rather suspect. Question: Is Alexis actually Asian? I still can't tell. Alexis, let me know if you see this. Shouts to the Burrow in Allston, MA.

Anyways word, the menu included some fish balls, some sisig (per the website, Pampanga-style pork, marinated, grilled, and chopped, with a side of pepper rice - on point!), as well as my favorite... the adobo pork belly buns, which were delectable. Yo they were probably the best thing I ate all week (which might not be saying much if you know my diet - shouts to Manda and Scooter). No, but for real, they were stratospherically bomb. They were next level. Yo I might advocate cutting funding to Boston public schools if you told me you were gonna give me some more pork buns, fam.

...Nah actually, I would never do that. Fuck outta here. THEY WERE THAT GOOD THOUGH. I would consider it if I were hungry enough.

So yeah, props to Ellie and her team for bringing us a great meal and reminding us how necessary it is to have ready access to delicious Filipino food here in the greater Boston area. We're missing that right now, so it's our hope here at EMW that Pamangan is gonna go ahead and blow up and fill that niche in our lives. We love you guys, man. By the time the karioka with jackfruit came around, I was a thousand percent sold.

More fly photos below. Splash.

ADOBO  BACKSTAGE KENNY  MAESTRO CROWD  SISIG

Photo credit: Some Filipino dude named Vincent with a slouch beanie. I'm not sure what this man's last name is. But strong work, dude. Holler at me if you see this.

L, K

Kai Huang Returns Home and features at East Meets Words by Ricky Orng

East Meets Word ft Kai Huang 01

Kai Huang comes back home, our tenant in the bookstore's attic - we welcome him at the first open mic of the year. Kai is the big man who plans the EMW program East Meets Words. The team has been taking the lead during his travels and we've eagerly booked Kai as this month's feature! It only sounds fair to give former member of the Providence slam team and Brown University slam team a humble feature on home turf.

However, Massachusetts seem a little less inviting compared to the sunny-side-up California.  The week leading to the open mic felt like the temperature was way below zero. Daunting for even New Englanders to troop it outside for any post school/work activities. On the flip side, we can always count on our fam for a full house and a full open mic list. The room elevated with hands, half of the audience were new faces, the other half were regulars like Jelyn Masa.  She has been attending the open mic since the Summer of last year.  She is a student at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.  Jelyn was introduced to EMW and the open mic through the ROOT Collective, a group of self-identified Asian American women, trans, and gender queer individuals seeking community in shared histories of personal experiences.

"In this space, I experience vulnerability and growth. I hear truth so raw I lose my breath for a second and then five minutes later, I'm laughing like crazy.  Thanks for filling a void I didn't even know I had," she shared.

East Meets Word ft Kai Huang 02

Sharing the stage that evening was Sabrina Ghaus, a long time friend of EMW. Performing at the open mic, she reads a brave piece about language and her internal battle between cultures.  Sabrina tells us that the only reason she feels comfortable is that this space feels safe.  "I feel that family is here. EMW is one of the reasons I moved back [to Boston]".  Sabrina did absolutely amazing and the cool thing is, her first time ever performing poetry was here at East Meets Words!

Sitting right in front of the stage was Ayo E., a writer, comedian and student at NYU.  This was her first time in the space. She planted herself in the first row with several friends.  All of them were close enough to be in "spit range" some might call it.  After the event we got her thoughts, "...coming from New York, the vibe between the two cities could be competitive," but Ayo left with a very different impression.  She felt extremely welcomed at the bookstore.

East Meets Word ft Kai Huang 03

It was also Amanda and Ricky's first time co-hosting together.  As they introduced Kai Huang, they asked one another how would they describe him in two words.  Amanda answered thoughtfully, "endearingly abrasive." Ricky added, "very attractive," - both of which are true and both are two of the many qualities that make this man an incredible artist and human being.  Kai premieres his set responsibly rocking his accent piece, a red knitted scarf, which he tells us that it is first colored garment he has worn in four years.

kai huang

"2015 is the year of humility!" Kai repeatedly announces during his feature. "The sheep shall inherit the earth."

Regardless of your astrologically and zodiacal beliefs, we can't deny how amazing last Friday was.  Kai opened up with "Private Institution," a hard-hitting, truthful piece about higher education. He performs a few throwbacks like "Mao" and "Miseducation Revisited," then sneaks in a few new gems, two persona pieces to be exact. One in the voice of Samson speaking to Delilah, the second was in the voice of his revolutionary glasses.

Thanks to all the new faces, regulars, organizers, performers, Kai Huang, ITSYERBOI - we out here! Take a look at all the photos from East Meets Words featuring Kai Huang here.

FRESH FRIDAYS FEATURING BRIAN CHAN by Kai Huang

BRIAN CHAN

What up y'all.

Guess who's back in the building. It's Kai Huang with another track for the children. Man, so it's been a minute since I've checked in with you all here on the EMW blog, so my apologies for that. I took some time to do some away rotations out in the Bay Area, CA. Saw some patients. It was cool. But at the same time, it's wonderful to be back here in home sweet Cambridge, MA, fam. Get back on this blog game.

Alright so y'all might know that for a few months now, we've been hosting different artists here in the main gallery space at EMW. During my time away, our friend the very talented Alahna Watson had an exhibit here entitled g.r.i.t.s. (Girl Raised In The South). I was super bummed to have missed it, but I heard it was bomb af. Shouts to that girl and shouts to all of Jamaica Plain.

Today though, I want to recap an event we had just earlier this week. Gallery openings usually take place on the first Friday of each month and have thus been dubbed Fresh Fridays by our creative director Jeff Cott AKA Kid Koala (so called because of his striking resemblance to the tree-dwelling marsupials native to Australia). Due to scheduling issues, however, this month's Fresh Friday took place on the second Thursday... this Thursday, January 8.

The feature artist was our friend and colleague Brian Chan, who is a craftsman of otherworldly genius. He mostly came up in the MIT and Mass Art scenes and now works over at the MIT Hobby Shop. "Hmm. A craftsman?", you say. What does he do exactly? Man, it's kind of tough to describe what the man doesn't do. He does 3D printing. He makes musical instruments. He makes swords. He folds some of the most intricate origami known to man. If you don't believe me, g'head and type "brian chan origami" into Google and see what happens. He also made this fucking Ironman suit and has been known to sleep in it from time to time:

IRONMAN

So, I warn you. Do not attempt to run up on this dude at home. It's not gonna end well for you. I'm saying, don't let the friendly Asian Hufflepuff demeanor fool you... my man really doesn't fuck around when it comes to his art, son. NOBODY IS SAFE.

Actually nah lol he's a really nice dude though. He gave a brief artist's talk and took questions from the audience and we'll have that segment as well as a more in-depth one-on-one interview up shortly, so stay tuned. Our video editing team is still playing Skyrim. But word, it was marvelous having Brian in the space to share his passion with us and I'm honored to count myself among his fans and admirers. To be there and to witness the level of detail in this man's work was really something awe-inspiring. I just imagine this dude locked up in his basement eating nothing but Nongshim ramen from H-Mart for like five months straight, muttering sheepishly to himself the whole time, lost in a parallel universe of unhinged creativity. Then he showers and emerges from the cave like Lazarus and fucks everybody's heads up with whatever new project he was cooking up down there. Crazy. That's EMW for you, man. Props to that dude and to everyone who came through. Gallery hours coming.

Alright I'm gonna get back to video editing now. And by video editing, I mean Skyrim. Peace. To check out more photos from the gallery opening, peep our Facebook.

Love, Kai

OH WORD, and Brian's running a 3D printing and design workshop this Saturday, January 17, y'all. Sign up here! https://openartlabbrianchan.splashthat.com/

An Old-Fashioned Drink Salon on Tech and Ethics: a Toast to More! by Stine An

EMW hosted the first Drink Salon on Technology & Ethics in November. In 2015, the salon will be a regular EMW program where members of the community can gather to learn about, discuss, and share ideas at the intersection of technology and ethics from featured speakers and other guests. Check out our snazzy poster here!

An Old-Fashioned Drink Salon

Colin McSwiggen (@cosmc), one of the organizers for the event, kindly wrote us a recap!

— Stine

-- No one really knows when the word "salon" ceased meaning anything but a beauty parlor. Historians' estimates fall anywhere between the invention of brunch in 1895 and the death of Django Reinhardt in 1953. Recently, however, a few of us have begun a project to revive an older definition: a venue for people to congregate and talk about important issues, make new friends, and get proper sloshed.

So, last Thursday, EMW hosted the first of what will hopefully be an ongoing series of Old-Fashioned Drink Salons on Technology and Ethics. As far as we could tell everyone had a great time, thanks to our four distinguished guests:

Sara Watson spoke about the concept of technology criticism, about who gets a platform to speak and write publicly about technology and about the roles and responsibilities of critics in society.

EMW's own David Kong talked about the politics behind his work as a synthetic biologist. In a world where our technical knowledge is increasingly siloed in corporations and univerisities, whose interests will really benefit from the coming biotech revolution?

Yascha Mounk took the discussion to the next plane of abstraction and asked us whether technology really has an impact on politics in the first place. We all agreed that yes of course it does, but maybe not in the most obvious ways, and then Yascha said way too much other interesting stuff to even summarize it here.

Perhaps most important of all, our master bartender David Zhou kept everyone happily buzzed throughout the evening. He also taught me how to make my own Old Fashioned, which has frankly been a mixed blessing. You know what they say: make a man an Old Fashioned, and you'll get him drunk for an hour; show him how to do it his own damn self and he'll be drunk for the rest of his life.

a rapt audience!

If you missed the event, sign up for our mailing list to be the first to know about cool Drink Salon events in the future!

— Colin

Bookbinding or Japanese Woodblock Printmaking? by Iris Cutler

Which would you like to take?

EMW is bringing in friend and artist Kevin Frances to lead a beginner's workshop on December 20th. Problem is, he's got too many talents and has offered to teach bookbinding or Japanese woodblock printmaking. To vote, take the survey on our newsletter or email us at emwbookstore@gmail.com with your vote in the title!

Here's more info about your options:

Bookbinding An introduction to book binding, three different book styles will be taught; accordion book, pamphlet stitch, and Japanese "stab" binding. Book contents are your choice, blank books for sketching or journaling, or bind your own writing, photos, drawings or comics.

Materials cost: $10-15/person, plus maybe some studio supplies, cutting matts, scissors, etc.

Japanese Woodblock Printmaking

In this class students will learn how to carve a woodblock using hand tools, and print it in the Japanese technique. This process uses water based inks, and does not require a press. This technique is well suited to the individualist; it is decidedly low tech, students will be given all the tools needed to make prints in a home studio. While traditional processes will be taught, the medium is very elastic, marks on wood will leave traces on paper, through the process of making prints, each student will develop their personal technique.

Materials cost: about $35 /person, and maybe $50 of studio supplies for the class.

Who's this Kevin Frances guy? Kevin Frances is an artist who lives and works in Boston, MA. He received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013, and his BA from the University of California, Davis in 2010. In 2012 he was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been show at the International Print Center New York, David Krut Projects in New York, the Kala Gallery in Berkeley, CA, and the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis. He has taught classes and workshops at the Rhode Island School of Design, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Center for Contemporary Printmaking, and Anna Maria College.

Let us know what you'd like to see, and we'll make it happen!

With love, EMW

1,000 Virtues at EMW Bookstore by Iris Cutler

by Chien-Hwe Hong

The first time I walked by EMW bookstore, I did a double take.  Partly because I didn't know it existed, but mostly because the crowd in there was unlike any other I had felt, ever, really.  So I walked into the open door.  I was immediately embraced in walls bouncing off beats, people living it up, and a sense of community that I didn't know I was sorely missing until I walked into it.  I thought to myself, 'I have to have soul sessions here.'  I left that night feeling drunk off of a simple good time.

Weeks later, an artist collaborator friend of mine invited me to an art opening at EMW. Of course I made it fit in my schedule.  Though it was a different vibe than the first one I walked into, it was still one saturated with a feeling of long lost family, of warm welcomes and of groundbreakingly unique individual artistry.  My friend introduced me to Iris, their fearless program director and I told her about my quiet dream to host soul sessions at their gem of a venue.  The rest is history.
What turns me on about the community there is the lack of pretense coupled with the raw dedication its members have in holding the space together through the power of love alone to create labored of love both individually and collectively. EMW bookstore is a diamond in the rough, a needle in the hay, a find so precious it's like drinking from a fountain of natural springs after being parched for years.

Moral of the story : go to EMW and find out for yourself how you will fall in love with the space and the community on your own terms.  I know I did.

Keep your souls peeled for 1,000 Virtue's monthly Soul Sessions and Movement Labs (M-Lab) at EMW Bookstore.

EMW GALLERY, FEATURING: NGAWANG JORDEN by Kai Huang

JORDEN

This month at the EMW Gallery, we're proud to be displaying the artwork of Tibetan painter Ngawang Jorden. Personally, I love seeing his stuff in the main space. I was blown away when he and our creative director Jeff Cott moved the pieces in a few weeks ago, and I continue to be amazed every time I go downstairs to kick it. Jorden's work is politically incisive and deep as fuck to be sure (ALL THESE LAYERS!!), but also just visually stunning. I can't be mad. This man can paint. Hats off to you, fam.

Here's his tumblr: http://ngawangjorden.tumblr.com/

Here's his artist statement:

Ngawang Jorden began painting and drawing at an early age. When he was 16, he began studying traditional Tibetan thangka painting and he continued his education for four years. Jorden's work is centered around four main themes: man's universe and mental patterns, traditional Tibetan symbolism, political imagery, and the relationship between humans and technology.

His work employs a meticulous classical technique, influenced by traditional Tibetan religious art. It is represented in a space that he has created in combination with various organic and natural forms. Jorden interprets current and past sociopolitical events and human behavior in combination with his own recollection of ideas, most of them learned from his Buddhist background, to enhance artistic creativity. He creates a new reality based on his personal experiences as a Tibetan who has grown up seeing the injustice and pain inflicted on his own country, Tibet, and its people. To Jorden, it has become almost second nature to observe how we have behaved through history and how we continue to repeat the same actions only under different circumstances at different points in time.

This idea, that our own actions can be predicted by looking at how we have behaved in the past, is a recurrent concept that can be seen throughout Jorden’s works.

 So word, drop by and pay us a visit sometime. Stop and smell the acrylic. 934 all day.

BACK TO SCHOOL by Kai Huang

WE ARE HUMAN

Happy fall, y'all.

A lot of things happened this summer. Now, admittedly, I myself spent most of my time at the hospital, in the library, or just back at the bookstore acting stupidly. But I'd like to pause all that and take this moment to express solidarity with everyone out there who's been having a tough time these past few months/years/generations.

With love from Cambridge.

LONGFELLOW

EAST MEETS WORDS FEATURING KENNY PENGUIN & FRIENDS (SEPTEMBER 2014) by Kai Huang

KENNY PENGUIN

Dearest EMW Family,

As a long time lurker at the EMW Open Mics, I was honored to be asked to feature. At the time (late 2013), I didn't know what I was going to do nor what I even wanted to do. Having not actually made anything shareable since college, I felt like it would be a good opportunity to share some old videos, as well as good motivation to get up and start making something new.

Since that time, a group of friends and I decided to start working with puppetry. Due to the simple fact that doing animation projects takes far too long for any of our ADD riddled heads, and being fans of the Muppets and Sesame Street, we decided that making puppets was our easy way out. For the most part it's been a good time coming up with skits and sketches, mostly based on various conversations or slightly twisted experiences that we've had. Since then, we are slowly gaining more and more creative friends and funny people to work on future episodes with. I am very proud and curious to what the future holds.

It was amazing to see peoples reaction and hear them laugh; as our usual course of action is to upload them online and hope someone out there laughs at them. I also have a lot of thanks to all of my friends that have helped me work on various creative endeavors throughout the years and currently. I was glad to include them in the show. Not having planned a good chunk of what was going to happen until about a week or 2 beforehand, I'm happy to have an overall positive response, as well as no casualties.

Lastly, having seen the EMW Bookstore evolve into what it is today, it's amazing to still be a part of it. And I hope to see it continue to grow. Keep up the good work, EMW family.

Sincerely, Kenny Penguin

COSTASIS ARTS COLLECTIVE FUNDRAISER by Kai Huang

By Gabriela Silva Costasis 7

On the night of August 31, I stood on the EMW stage before an audience of friends and supporters, teaching an excerpt from a dance I choreographed with Terina Jasmine Alladin. Our creative process is fueled by the analysis of our personal experiences; this particular movement phrase was a response to my history of self-harm. I decided not provided this context for the dance to our guests. That night, my purpose in sharing the movement was to provide source material for them to manipulate through an improvisational structure taught by Joe Burgio. Divided into two groups, we took turns being performers and observers. Everyone gave new life to the dance as they colored the space inside the choreographic frame with their own stories. We were playing. We were testifying and witnessing. We were embodying the vision of Costasis Arts Collective, the interdisciplinary group of artists and entrepreneurs we had gathered in support of.

Our dance was just one of the memorable experiences we shared that night. Performances by Ensemble Inedit and Pampi were certainly highlights of the evening. Terina and I were also grateful to premiere an untitled work-in-progress and offer our youth and adult classes at the Dorchester Kroc Center as raffle prizes.

This gathering was what Terina and I had envisioned three months ago, as we crafted the mission and values of our new company, Costasis Arts Collective. Costasis Arts Collective utilizes the arts to facilitate relevant dialogue and promote the visibility of underrepresented stories. We seek to unify the creative change-makers in Boston to form sustainable and equitable models for art-making, art education and performance. Costasis is fortunate to have the support and energy of many arts enthusiasts and professionals in the area, as affirmed during our fundraiser. We give our thanks to EMW for being an incubator of cross-disciplinary artistic creation and performance. We give our thanks to the performers, volunteers and donors who made the fundraiser a night to remember. With this momentum, we will create the artistic community we want to see. How will you take part?

For more information on Costasis Arts Collective, visit costasis.org.

Costasis 1  Costasis 2
Costasis 3  Costasis 6

On the Fearlessness of the Honey Badger by Stine An

In the epigraph for her poem "Mellivora Capensis," poet Sally Wen Mao reports that the honey badger—at least according to the 2002 Guinness World Records—is the world’s most fearless animal.

Following the poetry open mic, Mao, as part of the Honey Badgers Don’t Give a B**k! tour, performed the poem in a round-robin style poetry reading at EMW Bookstore with fellow poets and Kundiman Fellows Cathy Linh Che and Eugenia Leigh. Mao, in her signature style—crisp and luscious, cerebral as it is down to earth—explained why honey badgers are awesome and don’t give a damn. Honey badgers eat beehives for breakfast; an assortment of venomous snakes for a post-prandial snack; and they swipe prize meals from more formidable predators without batting an eyelid.

Built with an omnivorous appetite and thick skin, a specimen of Mellivora capensis courts danger regularly. Her genes, and perhaps environment, demand resilience. In the poem "Mellivora Capensis" from her collection Mad Honey Symposium (published by Alice James Books), Mao repeats twice, “A broken badger is not a sad thing.”

Why is a broken badger not a sad thing?

Cathy Linh Che read from her book Split (published by Alice James Books) in which she described the inheritance of anguish and the complicated role of family in moving past trauma. Eugenia Leigh, in turn, read poems from her forthcoming collection Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows, highlighting pieces on working through heartbreak, fear, and the death of a beloved artist. All three honey badgers read poems that in essence breathed air into stories of brokenness.

Poet & Honey Badger Cathy Linh Che

Common threads for the evening’s readings were the themes of surviving, containing multitudes, and being a self through and beyond trauma—physical, personal, abstract, institutional, symbolic, and more—and far larger foes. One salient message was that those traumas might mark us, but they do not mar us, do not make us.

Being broken is not a sad thing.

In several moments of the readings by Mao, Che, and Leigh, I found myself wondering how I could be more like the honey badger and wild of heart in what I see to be a fairly tame, domesticated existence. The poems delighted me and resonated deeply with my own struggles with being Asian-American and beyond (I guess, just a self).

Poet and Honey Badger Eugenia Leigh

In light of tangled identity politics, Mao’s poems written from the perspective of a wry Anna May Wong, an American-born Chinese-American Hollywood actress from the 1930s, particularly stood out to me. The Hollywood industrial machine limited Wong to roles that were, well, limiting—as a dragon lady, a Madame Butterfly, a lotus flower, a prostitute, a daughter of the villain, a great gal and seductress who never gets the leading man—and yet, she still glows on the silver screen, becomes her own star, and holds dignified court in spite of the times. There’s something true to life about living with constraints while also breaking through them, twisting out from under the claws of what holds us down, while fighting back and, perhaps, eating what is trying to eat us. Mao's honey badger in "Mellivora Capensis" declares the sentiment with lethal puissance: "Spit me out, larger beast—find my paws/ on your jaw, on your hipbone, on your feet./ [...]/ Find the waterbuck heaving/ in the swamp. Find gashes. Find heat./ Find skin molting but you won't find me."

Poet and Honey Badger Sally Wen Mao

Being able to contain multitudes, to be free and unfree at the same time, being able to take on—to devour—what cuts us the most deeply and keeps us awake at night—to take on bigger enemies—that, for me, reveals the true fearlessness of the honey badger and the three poets I saw that night.

After three sets of three poems from each poet, we lingered in the bookstore in awe and conviviality. It was like we were in a bookstore, but instead of books, we had people who contained poems and the tireless courage of the honey badger who is wise enough to know that being broken is not a sad thing.

The Fearless Audience at EMW Bookstore

Don't forget to check out the photo album on the EMW Bookstore Facebook page!

KAKI LIMA POP-UP RESTAURANT by Amanda Zhang

Last month, we had our first ever pop-up restaurant with Kaki Lima! Named after the iconic five legged street food stalls in Indonesia, Kaki Lima serves Indonesian street and fusion food, run by husband and wife duo Peter Gelling and Retno Pratiwi. Check out the picture album on our Facebook!

Kaki Lima 1
Kaki Lima 3 Kaki Lima 2
Kaki Lima 6 Kaki Lima 4          Kaki Lima 5

Kaki Lima will be back next month on Saturday, September 27th! Be sure to sign up on our newsletter for more details!

The Sextacular Show! by Iris Cutler

EMW was lucky to have The Sextacular Show in our space in early July. A diverse, lively, and friendly crowd, they filled the Bookstore with a simultaneously informative and fully entertaining night of sex positive performances. The Sextacular Show Team wrote a reflection on the night below. Thank you, Sextacular! It was an absolute pleasure! By The Sextacular Show Team

On Thursday, July 10, the Sextacular Show took stage for a preview show at East Meets West. The collaborative nature of East Meets West proved to be just what we needed to set the tone for our first show. We hit capacity for the space in under a week of ticket sales but it provided us with an intimate space to test out the show. Among the performances were comedy, burlesque, storytelling, a rope performance, open mic, and even a clown!

The Sextacular Show formed around the shared vision to create a supportive space for the entire greater Boston community to participate in a sexy celebration. The core team comes from the kink community, sex education, burlesque, comedy, improv, and the more general population with a common goal: to create a place for people from all walks, all dispositions, inclinations, and expressions, to have a platform to celebrate the wide range of what sexuality may mean to them, showing each other diverse experiences along a vast spectrum of what healthy sexuality can look like. Doing this allows us to come together to share, grow, and learn something along the way.

In Boston, you can find a variety of nights and shows that touch upon the topic of sex and relationships, but what the Sextacular Show offers is a night of community where queer, poly, mono, kink, vanilla, or whatever letter of alphabet soup can come together under a single roof to share experiences, laughs, and a sense of community with a wide range of talented performers who rarely share the same stage. At the Sextacular Show, sex is not innuendo or whispers, it is not taboo, and it can be as heavy or as light a topic as a performer wants it to be. After the performances are over, the show offers the audience and performers an opportunity to join together in break-out sessions to discuss the show and other pertinent topic areas.

In creating the show, the core team asked themselves: “why do I need to perform in a show that celebrates sexuality?” In response, many of the team members reflected their deep need and desire to have a safe space to share personal truths, be vulnerable, and maybe even learn something about ourselves and others in the process.

The Sextacular Team is looking to share raucous self-expression and quiet thoughtful moments with those who wish to join us.

The Sextacular Show Website

Bios can be found here.

Shades of Gray (MIPSTERZ) by Layla Shaikley

When Rumi recited “what you seek is seeking you”, I was positive that he had been referring to moments like this one. There I was on stage at EMW. I was invited to represent my accidental movement, #mipsterz, in front of an audience. I projected a few words between artists across countries and belief systems, and the artists cumulatively created magic.

When a friend asked me why the night was magical, I struggled to describe it. In layman’s terms there were incredible artists, good energy, and the room was buzzing with creativity. But I failed to describe the intangible element that defined the night for me.

Then I saw this photo.

10497899_898300766852275_1491271230963434182_o

We tend to look at things in black and white, yet we live in a gradiated world.  We live in shades of gray.

To back it up and tell you a bit about myself, I am Layla. And I am Muslim. As a Muslim woman, my choice to wear hijab often adds a pre constructed narrative to my identity due to the isolating story constructed for me by Islamophobes and terrorists alike.

Throughout the years, I learned that the implications of one piece of fabric could be huge. I could be seen as sadistically oppressed, voicelessly docile, and naïvely desexualized when not forcefully hyper-sexualized. Those descriptions have nothing to do with me, though. I am relentlessly optimistic, painstakingly curious, entertainingly awkward, imprudently adventurous, and irrationally proper when not uncomfortably loud. Above all, I love fashion. And the unapologetic fusion of my identities has always received attention.

I grew sick of telling “my story” as a defensive correction of popularly perpetuated myths related to violence and oppression rather than my own personal narrative. That realization is why I started a national dialogue that advanced the discourse on the representation of Muslim women in America. I co-produced a video cut to Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America” that featured fashionable Muslim women in a group that a few friends and I started – we tongue-in-cheekily refer to this group as #mipsterz (Muslim Hipsters). It’s since evolved into an active listserv. The video went viral and commenced an unprecedented cross-web dialogue amongst Muslims on who gets to represent Islam, why, and how.

Perhaps as a Muslim in the West, as a woman in STEM, as an Iraqi in America, and as the daughter of an Arab Sunni and a Shia Kurd, I have lived in a world that is often defined in binaries. I have never authentically fit into any facets of my identity. How can I embrace American freedoms while identifying as Muslim? How do I unapologetically identify with two Islamic sects? How am I proud of my mixed heritage with a legacy of tension between Arabs and Kurds? The answer manifests itself in shades of gray.

Regardless of ethnicity, race, or belief system, the photo accurately represents every individual (including me) in shades of gray.

And that night was truly an ode to EMW’s shades of gray.

10533867_898318283517190_908722595991929529_o 10547732_898317366850615_9146793657076276421_o 10549976_898317930183892_9215351432486501662_o 10557632_898317073517311_9088412287257010401_o1926209_898309180184767_8944319593267683894_o 10497961_898318460183839_4327345754552186082_o 10380057_898308316851520_8480369705322409127_o 10547732_898317366850615_9146793657076276421_o 10551556_898309776851374_4996144758457131550_o 10557632_898317073517311_9088412287257010401_o

All photos: David Kong (www.facebook.com/davidkongphotography)