The Water Rabbit
A lesson in welcoming change
What I’m listening to as I write this:
Happy Lunar New Year! 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit. The Water Rabbit is known for its ability to adapt to whatever changing tides bring. The Water Rabbit reminds us that change is constant and there's value in learning to ride the wave. (A special shout-out to all my Californians braving the rain and floods right now - stay safe out there!) Welcoming 2023 has already brought me some changes.
On Christmas eve we found out that my uncle Nabil, one of the family members who helped raise me, had passed. Some of you might have read a little about my Amo Nabil if you were at my art show in September. I shared that he was one of many people that NSEERs forced out of the country after 9/11. My Amo’s passing is a big loss for our family and the community he served as a doctor in Lebanon. He was a patient presence in my and my little cousins’ lives, even after he went back home. My younger cousin, Ali, explained it best when he said, “You all know of me, but Amo Nabil, he knew me.”
Over the winter break, it was also finalized that I’ll be faculty at Art Center this term. I’ll be teaching "Never Again 9066" with Clement Hanami. This transdisciplinary studio class addresses the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. ACCD undergrad students will research and develop visually dynamic artworks, educational materials, and a public installation. The goal is to share key aspects of Japanese American history while connecting them to issues of civil liberties in the present.
My co-faculty, Clement, is the Vice President of Exhibitions and Art Director at the Japanese American National Museum. My Grandpa Nozaki first brought me to JANM in 1999. I was seven years old and he wanted to show me that he had all his grandkids’ names engraved in the children’s courtyard outside the museum. As a grandfather to five mixed gosei kids, this was a gesture at creating a physical place for us. His hope was that by learning about our history we would also begin to build a life-long relationship with the complexities of our expansive identities.
For my show last Fall, I wove government surveillance documents, Executive Order 9066, the NSEERs request for registry, and the recently leaked FBI Black Identity Extremist report, into a series of Islamic prayer rugs. I hung these rugs side by side so as to be in conversation with one another. Over the course of my two weeks so so many of you talked with me about how although our oppressions are not the same they are connected.
Being asked to teach this particular class at this particular time in my life feels right. I’ve been working through these topics for a long time, with my year residency with Level Ground, my work at 18MR, my thesis research, and even my most recent call for designers to add their skills to the movement. In this studio, I hope to include often-ignored topics like state surveillance, and the U.S.’s long history of incarceration (a la Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the US).
For so many of us, these last few years have been full of loss. My Amo’s passing comes on the heels of my grandfather's, preceded by his big sister, Anne Sumiko, who we lost to COVID-19. This is my first season without my Grandpa Nozaki. He would be the first person I would have called to talk about this studio. But things are different now, and I can’t.
So in the spirit of the new year, the year of the Water Rabbit, I’m doing my best to be agile amidst all this change. I want to use this unique opportunity to bring all the people who raised me into this class - our history, our lived experiences, and all our contradictions.
Here are some things that are helping me figure my shit out this week.
Upgrade to a paid subscription for access to:
- QTBIPOC ketamine therapy info
- a special Joy CV worksheet *made by me*
- Info/tools I’m using to get our money right
(yes I said our, we’re all doing this together)
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Life With Bianca to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.