Oliva Park and Esther Fan are students in graphic design at RISD as well as the founders of the art collective ‘Sad Asian Girls Club.’ “Frustrated by the tired stereotyping and ignorant assumptions made about their Asian heritage, the graphic design duo decided to join forces and change the narrative,” in late 2015, forming the ‘Sad Asian Girls Club.’ Their aim is to create a creative space for Asian women to freely express their struggles in order to break the “break the culture of passiveness and silence of Asians during discussions of racism and feminism.”
They’ve used the term ‘sad’ is used to express the frustrations of living in white, male-dominated societies while also living under the pressures of cultural standards. Its use also gives agency to a word and an emotion that’s often taboo, not in the sense that it’s expressly forbidden to be sad, but rather that social coercion often pushes us towards appearing expressly happy and positive, not allowing many of us to feel sad when the sentiment naturally arises.
Park and Fan launched their art collective in 2015 with the video “Have You Eaten?,” meant to portray the relationship between female Asian-American millennials and their first-generation immigrant moms, according to the video’s description. They have since published a series of new videos featuring a host of other young Asian American women discussing and dissecting stereotypes directed at Asians, namely the “model minority” myth, which they’ve addressed in three videos (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).
The model minority trope was in fact a catalyzing concept for the club, as both Park and Fan felt that “Asian-Americans often remain silent or passive during discussions of feminism or racism.” Breaking away from this stereotype, they sought, and continue to seek to fight against both institutional and social racism, including the rampant fetishization of Asian women.
Outside of the video medium, they’ve also exhibited their art through posters, photo books, zines, stickers, and social media, including one project that displayed “a series of posters consisting of statements beginning with ‘Asian Women Are Not___.'” The completed statements were submitted online from Asian women across the U.S. and potentially the world, allowing them to collectively speak out against Asian stereotypes. Their goal is to continue to expand their outreach and create a solid community of Asian women and artists as well as a forum for them to discuss issues relating to feminism and racism and hopefully steer future conversations within their communities.
**P.S. Sooooo sorry for the unintentional #100BeauitfulPOC hiatus, I’m fasting this month and it’s seriously testing me. I’ve become struggletown, U.S.A.