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‘Yellow Submarine Rising’ Gives Asian American Artists a Platform to Speak and Shine

Updated: Aug 31

An installation shot of "Yellow Submarine Rising" at OCCCA. In the center is Alison Ho's "Rock the Boat," an assemblage of mylar balloon letters created specifically for the show. Credit: Photo courtesy of Thuy Tran

There’s a mini-revolution going on at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana, and it’s decidedly not quiet.

The multidisciplinary group exhibition “Yellow Submarine Rising: Currents in Asian American Art,” which opened Dec. 3 and runs through Dec. 17, features seven Asian American artists who are reflecting on and sharing their takes on the contemporary Asian American experience. The exhibit is presented by the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA), which is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

According to curator Thuy N.D. Tran, the show was conceived as a response to the recent rise in hate crimes and rhetoric against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). In its 2021 Orange County Hate Crimes Report, the OC Human Relations Commission noted a 43% increase in AAPI hate crimes and a 164% increase in anti-AAPI hate incidents from 2020 to 2021.

“We want to create a space for Asian American creatives, to insert them into the discussion,” said Tran, who curated the group show, “Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry” for VAALA in 2011. “That’s how I connect to these issues and process, is through creative work. We had a lack of that down here (compared to the Bay Area and New York).

“But being such a populated, huge Asian American demographic, it was strange. We are almost a majority in a lot of cities. It affects all of us.”

“Yellow Submarine Rising” is organized in four themed galleries: Cultural Legacies, Belonging_Home, Elevating Empowerment and Transferences and Futures.

This full story can be accessed for free in its entirety at Voice of OC.

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