In this episode of Subtle Desi Traits, host Ankita Bharadwaj is in conversation with artist and activist Jenie Gao. The two talk about how Asians are tokenized and made invisible by social justice movements and those who claim to be either centrists or leftists.
About the guest:
Jenie Gao is a full-time artist, creative director, and entrepreneur. Her arts practice is based in printmaking, public art, social practice, and storytelling. She also has a niche consulting in equitable best practices and systems for cultural organizations. She strives to create records and claim space for resilient, diverse stories.
Jenie pulls from personal experiences as a second generation, mixed race Taiwanese-Chinese American woman who grew up in rural Kansas, who worked her way into unexpected roles in the corporate world and beyond. Prior to founding her business, Jenie worked in the arts, public education, and lean manufacturing. Through her interdisciplinary work, Jenie advocates for equity for artists, fair pay for labor, and building equitable communities that work better for everyone. She has hired and mentored 24 paid interns and apprentices through her apprenticeship program at Jenie Gao Studio. She has been in business full-time for seven years and ran a 1,700 square foot art studio in Teejop (Madison, Wisconsin) until summer 2021 when she relocated to Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she is currently developing her graduate research in women of color’s labor in the context of arts-based gentrification, art-washing / cooptation, and DEI initiatives in the US and Canada.