STATEMENT: My artwork is about themes of distance and belonging and I focus on the fluidity of cultural difference and the slipperiness of identity. Asian American history and mixed race representations are subjects that run through my work. I start with autobiographical impulses and draw inspiration from popular culture, textile design, as well as personal and community photographic archives and oral history interviews. I collect these images, stories, and histories, and I see what is missing, what is not being told, what is not obvious, and I go hunting for it. I am interested in the overlap, fusion, disjuncture, or vibration that happens when I bring back the missing pieces and put them together.
Short Bio: Laura Kina is Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference; and cofounder and consulting editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas.
Long Bio: Laura Kina received her MFA Studio Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001 and her BFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. She is a Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, and Design and an affiliated faculty member of American Studies, Global Asian Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul University.
Her solo exhibitions include Blue Hawaii (2014), Sugar (2010), A Many-Splendored Thing(2010) , Aloha Dreams (2007), Loving (2006), and Hapa Soap Operas (2003). She has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, the Spertus Museum, the University of Memphis, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.
Born in Riverside, California in 1973 to an Okinawan father from Hawai’i and a Spanish-Basque/Anglo mother, Kina was raised in Poulsbo, WA, a small Norwegian town in the Pacific Northwest. The artist currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. Her work has shown nationally and internationally. Her solo shows include: Blue Hawaii (University of Memphis, 2014); Sugar (Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, 2010); A Many-Splendored Thing (Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL 2010); Aloha Dreams and Hapa Soap Operas (Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts, Miami, FL 2007 and 2003); and Loving (Grand Projects, New Haven, CT 2006). Between 2009-2013 the works in Kina's Devon Avenue Sampler series traveled to six venues in India and the U.S. as part of a two-woman show Indigo: Laura Kina and Shelly Jyoti. Her artwork has been published on the cover of Franklin Odo'sVoices from the Canefields: Folks Songs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawaiii; Cathy Schlund-Vial's Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing; and in Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, Embracing Ambiguity: Faces of the Future, and The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation. Her 2011 "Issei" painting was featured in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's traveling banner exhibition "I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story."
Kina is the Midwest coordinator for the Diasporic Asian Arts Network and a member of the International Network for Diasporic Asian Art Research. She serves on the board member of The Japanese American Service Committee in Chicago and as an advisory board member of MAVIN in Seattle. She is a founding member of the Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) biennial conference and a founding member and consulting editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas. Kina, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, is the coeditor of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013) and a co-curator of a related exhibition of the same title at the DePaul University Art Museum (April 25-June 30, 2013) and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (August 9, 2013-January 19, 2014). War Baby/Love Child was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts 2012 Art Works grant. Diversity MBA Magazine selected Kina as one of the 2012 "Top 100 Executives & Emerging Leaders Under 50." She is currently working on an anthology with art historian Jan Christian Bernabe titled Que(e)rying Contemporary Asian American Art.
|Critic Murtaza Vali has described her art as “a genre of Pop art with a distinctly postcolonial edge.” Curator Larry Lee, in his introduction to Laura Kina’s 2010 retrospective A Many-Splendored Thing , expands on this notion: Glance quickly at a Laura Kina painting and what comes to mind at first is Hello Kitty goes to Bollywood in Pearl Harbor by a Coca Cola sign. Or surely Pop gone haywire as the resultant byproduct the artist creates deftly fuses these loaded icons into a NeoPop Orientalism or less ironical Post Japonisme of East morphing West and vice versa not just Americanized but transnationalized. Yet to label her oeuvre strictly as such is an injustice because what you also see ostensibly hybridizes the anecdotal and historical, family and society, private and public conflated through collage of art imitating, or drawing from, life, particularly her life as a mixed Asian "hapa haole" alternately fascinated, bemused and obsessed with being in-between.