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ISSUE 40: Claudine Sopchak and Jenna Park
TYP's first Mother/Daughter dual post!
THE YELLOW PAGES is a weekly newsletter recommending Asian and AAPI films, music, writing, and other inspiration — all the artsy things I wished for growing up!
I first began blogging in 2009, when the world wide web was so young. There were barely any trolls, just a community of at-home writers/readers who supported one another. I feel a certain comradarie with the people of that time, many who I am still close with. Content Creators before “content creating” existed.
One such person is Jenna Park. Her old blog Sweet Fine Day (2008-2019) existed around the same time as mine, The Actor’s Diet (2009-2019). Although I never got a chance to read Sweet Fine Day, I love that both Jenna and I are now able to connect via each other’s words on Substack. Everything is Liminal feels like a somewhat parallel experience to my own newsletters. Jenna — also Gen X, also Asian-American — is re-navigating the world of sharing her virtual life, just like I am.
That feeling of being connected to someone you’ve never met — it used to be weird, but now it’s delightfully nostalgic.
Jenna recently shared her daughter Claudine’s AAPI Women in History website (more on that below) and I immediately reached out to ask if she’d do a guest post. Not only did Claudine agree, but Jenna did too.
Grateful they’re both here.
P.S. I’m just a few subscribers away from 1000! It would be wonderful if you could share this newsletter with a friend to get me across that milestone. Thanks.
Claudine Sopchak, Jenna Park (We both use she/her).
What do you do?
Claudine: Currently, I’m a rising high school senior in NYC balancing college apps and a lot of art making.
Jenna: I’ve worked as a designer in tech and design for the last 25 years, but I’m transitioning out of the industry.
How do you identify racially?
Claudine: I’m half Korean and half white.
Jenna: I’m Korean American.
Anything coming up?
Claudine: During AAPI heritage month, I launched a website called ‘AAPI women in history’ that I’ve been working on for a year. It started out as a few hand-drawn portraits, but I wanted to make it a larger ongoing project highlighting Asian American historical figures and “firsts,” especially women who are generally unseen in American history. Even though these women hold such importance to this country’s history, I didn’t learn about any of them in my school curriculum which barely touches Asian American history beyond Japanese internment and the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Credit was—and still is—not given where it’s due. For example, Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, who was a major part of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s was never acknowledged for her contributions at the time. More recently, Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, the first scientist to clone H.I.V. in 1985, was one of the few female scientists who actually got credit for their work during that era. Her research was deployed in the fight against Covid-19, yet few people today know about her contributions.
Jenna: What struck me as Claudine was working on this project, was that I couldn’t find any stand alone websites that feature prominent Asian Americans in history. In May, you’ll see sites publish lists of “Asian Americans You Should Know” during AAPI month, but nothing like a stand alone resource. I shouldn’t be surprised that very little has changed in the integration of Asian American contributions in the school curriculum since I was a kid, but this is slowly changing as new bills are being passed across states.
Links to share:
Claudine: Growing up as a Gen Z teen, there are so many Asian Americans in the media compared to previous decades. Honestly, it’s hard to grasp how few Asian people appeared in pop culture since Asian art and music are now more widespread, but my mom is always commenting on the difference between today and decades ago when she was a kid in the 80s. Below is my list of 4 favorite rising Asian American artists.
Jenna: I used to tell my kids that any time an Asian appeared on TV, we’d yell out “Asian people!” since it happened so infrequently. I mean, I still sometimes do that even now. When BTS played Saturday Night Live in 2019 and Parasite won at the Oscars in 2020, my kids just didn’t understand what a huge deal that was and why I was floored to see Koreans on network TV. Which is to say, Asian visibility in media has definitely gotten so much better.
Yuan Fang - I love her loose yet controlled multi-media art style and I take a lot of inspiration from the pieces that have been circulating through Pinterest.
Curry Tian - I am just in awe of her works. There are no words to describe it except it’s just surreal.
Sao Tanaka - Really, just emotional pieces about (in my opinion) emptiness that are so visually pleasing.
Yongqi Tang - In love with her style and hope to be able to convey the same emotions as she does in her pieces.
Anicka Yi - In keeping with the artist theme, I really admire how her work blurs the line between art, biology and scientific research.
Chiharu Shiota - I was able to see a smaller scale version of one of her thread installations in person last Fall in NYC and have been inspired by her work since. I would love to be immersed in some of her larger webbed environments.
Minju Kim - Like many people, I was first introduced to her from Netflix’s Next in Fashion — I think I actually teared up watching her final runway show. She has such a unique vision and style, and it’s been fun to follow her career.
So!YoON! - There is so much more music from Korea beyond Kpop (though BTS forever holds a special place in my heart). I did learn of this artist through RM, and her voice and style is so unique—a bit rock, electronica, with a tinge of R&B.
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