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Talks and Lectures

Artist Panel: Environmental Resiliency and Asian Pacific American Leadership

Artists and activists discuss building environmental resiliency in Asian American communities and fighting for climate justice through artistic and organizing practices.

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How can Asian Pacific Islander communities engage in the issues of today’s climate crisis? A panel of artists and activists discusses their work in the context of the fight for environmental justice in this event presented in conjunction with the Asian American Women Artists Association and the SOMArts Cultural Center exhibition Sowing Agency. Artists Angela Basbas Angel, Priya Handa, and Pam Tau Lee and Asian Pacific Environmental Network organizer Cheuk-Ning Li join in a conversation centered on building environmental resiliency and leadership through their artistic and organizing practices, moderated by exhibition curator Lisa Pradhan and 18 Million Rising Campaigner sumi dutta.

About the Exhibition

Sowing Agency, on view at SOMArts Cultural Center from Apr. 30 to May 23, is inspired by the fight for environmental justice. It aims to activate our Asian Pacific Islander communities to engage in the issues of today’s climate crisis. The work featured in the exhibition, representing a number of artistic disciplines, realigns our relationships with the earth through introspection and collective leadership. The exhibition’s broad coalition of community partners amplifies the call for increased action to challenge extractive industries, monocultures, corporate greed, and colonization. Weaving local and global climate resistance into our cultural consciousness, Sowing Agency is a visual and poetic address to the grief and resiliency rooted in “seeding the future.” 

About the Panelists

Angela Basbas Angel came to this world with the purpose of bringing beauty and balance. She is a healing practitioner/herbalist, permaculture gardener, artist, ceremonialist, and community worker. Angel loves tending to her garden and facilitating the connection of plants with people and her work always centers our connection to the land.  

Priya Handa is an Oakland-based muralist, painter, and tattoo artist. Born and raised in the Bay Area (Ohlone Territory), she creates work to tell and share stories of the communities around her and uses her art as a platform for activism. Her work focuses on our relationship with Mother Earth and respecting Indigenous land and its people. In doing this work, she focuses on giving voice to womxn and their empowerment. She works with youth to use art as a learning tool, and has worked on walls in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Mexico, and Palestine.

Pam Tau Lee is a painter who dedicates her life’s work to environmental justice. She wrote the paper on workplace safety for the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit and contributed to Principles of Environmental Justice. She co-founded the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and the Just Transition Alliance, and she is currently the chair of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – U.S. 

Cheuk-Ning Li is an Oakland Local Organizer with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. She graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in comparative history of ideas and a minor in diversity. In 2016, she was introduced to community organizing as a Seeding Change Fellow with Youth MOJO at the Chinese Progressive Association. She has organized with the autonomous Chinese/diaspora organization Parisol//Pacific Rim Solidarity Network in Seattle, a healing and accountable political home in the struggle for collective liberation, and the Chinatown-International District Coalition (#HumbowsNotHotels), engaging AAPIs in anti-gentrification work in solidarity with other historically redlined communities.

Lisa Pradhan is an arts and culture worker based in Oakland and is the curator of Sowing Agency at SOMArts Cultural Center, Forward Echo at The Galallery, and </3 at The LGBT Community Center, all in San Francisco. Pradhan also organized the 2017 Performing Arts Showcase for Kearny Street Workshop’s APAture 2017: Unravel. 


ASL interpretation will be provided.

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Organizers & Sponsors

This program is copresented in partnership with 18 Million Rising, Asian American Women Artists Association, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, SOMArts Cultural Center, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour, South of Market, and Community Action Network.

Sowing Agency, on view at the SOMArts Cultural Center from April 30 to May 23, is funded in part by the California Arts Council, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, and Zellerbach Family Foundation.

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