It’s been such a long time since I last posted! 2014 has been a whirlwind of a year, full of eye-opening new projects and experiences. The year got off to a great start because I was able to sell two books that I’ve been working on for a very long time. One is a story called “When the Cousins Came,” that I sold to Holiday House, the publishers of “Fish for Jimmy.” The story is inspired by a lifetime of experiences with my own cousins, from every culture and urban/rural corner of the country, and is set to come out next year. The other story, “YAMA,” I’ve literally been working on for at least 10 years. It tells the story of my grandfather, architect Minoru Yamasaki. I’m publishing that story with Lee and Low and am beyond thrilled and humbled to be able to share his remarkable journey with children everywhere.
This year has also been exceptional because, I had a final art show with my 4th-8th grade students at Ballet Tech, The NYC Public School for Dance. I’ve been a teacher there since 2000, and have decided to take this year off from teaching because of other work demands. We had a wonderful end-of-school-year exhibit, and this fall was the first year since I was 3 years old that I did not go “back to school.” And as much as I miss my students (A LOT!!!), the extra time has been really important so far this September.
Here are a couple of pieces from the end of the year with my Ballet Tech kids. Their work is always so inspiring!
I also wrapped up the teaching year with my Continuing Ed. class at the School of Visual Arts. I had an incredible Spring semester with amazing students and guest speakers. One of my students from that semester sold the book she was working on (and got a two-book deal with a major house)! Another student also sold her book to an educational press and another student is waiting to hear how about her project after signing with one of the top agencies in the city. It was an amazing semester! I’ll be back at SVA for the winter semester with the same class, “Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books.”
At the end of the school semester I got to go out to the Japanese American National Museum for a “Fish for Jimmy” book signing and event. It was wonderful and I am so thrilled to be returning to JANM from Oct. 15-Nov. 15 for a mural project! Painting at the JANM is truly a dream come true for me- it is a site so special to my family and JA history. We’ve been planning the project all summer and I can’t wait to get out there in a few weeks!
The summer also brought the conclusion of an amazing project with Philadelphia Mural Arts’ Restorative Justice program. I partnered with Philly artist Kien Nguyen and teaching artist Ellissa Collier to work with incarcerated teens at a couple of detention centers in and around Philadelphia. Please read more about that project in the portfolio/murals section of my work page.
Also, big thanks to my friend George Gardner III for helping me out and being such an incredible model for the project!!
This summer also brought about the incredible good fortune of a trip to Basque Country, Spain, where I was one of 13 artists invited to participate in a mural event that explored women from rural societies both in Basque Country and globally. It was a fascinating place- totally unique in my experience. Please check out the work I did with the community of Azilu (population:30, seriously). I also had a chance to spend some time with my Spanish muralist friends, especially my friends Eva Mena and Veronica Werckmeister in Vitoria. Amazing! What a joy to be able to travel around and see the great work that is going up by muralists (and lots of women muralists!) all over Spain. I even saw a beautiful piece by the wonderful Philly muralist Michelle Ortiz.
Mid-summer, I got to go back to Boston to work with my good buddy Caleb Neelon at Tobin Elementary in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. It’s amazing the ground we can cover in 3 days 🙂
So . . . it has been a time of a lot of work and personal growth. 2014 has been full of blessings, most simply by being able to share and collaborate with friends, family and expanding communities all over. My gratitude abounds. I’ll try to keep things updated as the future projects unfold, particularly the mural at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown LA, October 15-November 15!