Celebrating the work of the Asian American Art Community

By Michelle Xu


To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s (APICC) 21st annual United States of Asian America Festival (USAAF) will feature San Francisco’s rising artists to showcase their talents in theatre, music, dance, film, literature, visual arts, and more from May 3 to June 17.

The festival will be full of multidisciplinary art events ranging from culturally rooted hip-hop to thought-provoking comedy; from expressive dance to historical storytelling with food.

This year’s theme, Regenerative Community, will focus on what can be done to care for our community and our culture; the event will include regenerative practices we can learn in order to revive, sustain, and evolve our culture.

Attendees will also be able to learn about Asian and Pacific Islander (API) history, how we can address historical traumas in a positive light, and how we can work towards a brighter future of healing and restorative justice.

Funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and San Francisco Grants for the Arts, the goal is to empower the API artists and support them in a way to make them grow.

“APICC continues to be a container within the API arts community in Yelamu/San Francisco where we can fully arrive no matter what side of the spectrum we fall—born and raised, immigrant, first-generation, second-generation, mixed race—and see ourselves reflected through the art and through the programs created by and for the community,” said Sammy Dizon, Founding Artistic Director of URBAN x INDIGENOUS and Resident Artist with APICC.

The APIA Festival will begin on Thursday, May 3 at 6 p.m. with BetweenScapes, where the work of 11 artists will address unresolved histories and pose questions about colonialism, migration, and transnational solidarity at SOMArts Cultural Center 934 Brannan St, SF.

Incarcerated 6×9 will be from May 4-13 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. It will be an immersive 60-minute dance performance performed by 10 dancers along Alleluia Panis’ latest work to music by Rachel Lastimosa and filmmaker Wilfred Galila at Bindlestiff Studio in SF’s Filipino Cultural District at Bindlestiff Studio in SF’s Filipino Cultural District 185 6th St, SF.

She Who Has No Master(s) will take place on Saturday, May 5 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum 200 Larkin St, SF and Sunday, May 6 from 4-6:30 p.m. at I-Hotel Manilatown Center, 868 Kearny St, SF. A collective of women and gender-non-conforming writers of the Vietnamese diaspora will collaborate on poetry performances and readings.

Model Minorities Don’t Cry, a stand-up comedy produced by Irene Tu and Andrew Orolfo will happen at Bindlestiff Studio on May 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. to talk about what it’s like to grow up Asian in America, how to live up to expectations of model minorities, and past trauma.

There will be a hip-hop celebration—Apicenter: Making Waves—where four Bay Area Asian-American emcees Ruby Ibarra, LEX the Lexicon Artist, Chow Mane, and Rudy Kalma will showcase a diversity of sounds, styles, and stories at Bottom of the Hill on May 19 at 9 p.m.

If you’re a foodie, you might check out The Rooted Recipes Project hosted by Kim Boral, Joseph Nontanovan, Aileen Suzara, Thuy Tran at SOMArts Cultural Center on June 10 at 1 p.m. There will be stories being told over Filipino, Lao, and Vietnamese food traditions.

H.O.L.Y. (Hate Often Loves You) City produced by Sammay Dizon URBAN x INDIGENOUS (dance) will be at SOMArts Cultural Center on June 16 and 17. Violence against people of color and how to react to these situations and help one another will be discussed through a ritual, performance, and gatherings.

“In the midst of this painful political and ecological climate, this year’s theme “regenerative community” touches upon some of the most vital ways we can resist, heal, and grow. As an educator, sustainability advocate, and chef, I am profoundly grateful for spaces like the USAAF—spaces that invite us to engage our communities in storytelling, food, memories and healing. It feels strong to be part of a vibrant community and legacy of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and POC (People of Color) in the arts, and to feed our collective imagination for the future,” said Aileen Suzara, founder of Sariwa and Pilipinx educator.


Members of art collective URBAN x INDIGENOUS. Photo by Baltazar Jonnell Dasalla/Courtesy of United States of Asian America.
Members of art collective URBAN x INDIGENOUS. Photo by Baltazar Jonnell Dasalla/Courtesy of APICC.


Comedians Andrew Orolfo (Left) and Irene Tu (Right). Photo by Flashpoint Collective/Courtesy of United States of Asian America.
Comedians Andrew Orolfo (Left) and Irene Tu (Right). Photo by Flashpoint Collective/Courtesy of APICC.


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