The last few years saw multiple attacks against Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, most notably the March 2021 mass shooting at an Atlanta, Ga. spa. One local group of women and non-binary artists responded by banding together to create spaces in Pittsburgh for AAPI representation and empowerment.
In a group statement, members Bonnie Fan, Lena Chen, Sara Tang, Caroline Yoo, and Elina Zhang say JADED “addresses the trauma of racial violence, reveals the hidden history of AAPI migration in the region,” and offers mentorship and networking opportunities for their communities.
“When I joined JADED, I felt a deep responsibility to the larger AAPI community in Pittsburgh – past and present,” Zhang tells Pittsburgh City Paper. “Beyond the immediate violence and discrimination towards AAPI communities, there is another more latent and equally urgent crisis, which is the fact that Asian American stories are continuously sidelined and made invisible, unmoored and without a home.”
To bring these stories to light, the group organized free events through the city’s Office of Public Art, including tours of sites like Homewood Cemetery, where many Guangdong workers are buried, and Pittsburgh’s historic Chinatown.
For 2023, JADED promises art exhibitions, writing workshops, film screenings, and other events.
“I am really proud that we have been part of a greater movement about AAPI folks across the country and within Pittsburgh who feel empowered to share our love and stories,” says Chen. “JADED would not be possible if we weren’t drawing from a strong foundation of mutual respect and love for each other.”