R O S
Photography by Evelyn Ivy, Edited by Hannah Ahn
Dear Reader, Hello! We want to begin by thanking everyone who has helped us achieve this vision: we greatly appreciate the hard work of our team, the inspiring pieces of our contributors, and the trust they have collectively instilled in us to carry out this initiative. This magazine is a product of our own existential confusion about the relationship between our personal histories, everyday experiences, and cultural roots. Where do we exist in the context of our Asian heritage, here, in Baltimore? To what extent do our backgrounds define who we are today? As Asian American artists and writers have long struggled with erasure and underrepresentation, we sought to create a platform through which students and community members could share unique stories and strengthen their identities. We hope this publication will revitalize the artistic spirit both on and off campus and initiate community-wide conversations around self-expression and cultural integrity. If you would like to contribute to our next issue or have any questions about this one, feel free to reach out to us or follow our social media pages! We hope you enjoy. Welcome to our first issue, Roots. Yeena Yoon and Kristen Park Editors-in-Chief
NOON is a Baltimore-based Asian American interest magazine that strives to explore questions of self-definition and community. Through NOON, meaning “eye” in Korean, we yearn to witness narratives shared by individual artists and curate a mosaic of experiences for the collective. The sun rises highest in the sky at the half-point of each day: NOON is powered by neither strictly Asian nor solely American identities, but ones that breathe at the intersection of both.
Kristen Park & Yeena Yoon ART DIRECTOR Beatrice Shim DESIGN EDITOR Cara Valencia PRODUCTION EDITOR Maya Flannery BUSINESS MANAGER Joyce Hwang COPY EDITORS Karen Wang & Seunghyun Woo EDITORS-IN-CHIEF
Alan Fang, Grace Lee, Caroline Kim, Ying Zhang, Andrew Cho, Grace Ren, Yuchae Lee, Hannah Ahn, Yan Wang, Evelyn Ivy, David In, Jessica Jaeun Cho
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a poem by Caroline Kim an illustration by Jessica Jaeun Cho
My grandfather stares at me on my knees as my forehead meets the cold floor. His face reflects the flickering light of two white candles, his mouth set in a perpetual tight line. His spirit enters the open door and tickles the back of my neck where my hairs rise up to greet him. Stews bubble with oil as the vegetables bob up and down for air. The fried fish with sunken eyes stare back at me, and the green rice cakes stuffed with nuts sit next to the pears, all waiting on the wooden inlay table for spirits to eat first. This year my grandmotherâ€™s portrait claimed her place between the candles mirroring their side by side graves where I promised myself I would never look at my reflection on the glass of my parentsâ€™ faces waving incense, only to feel hard wood under me. I mangle words that have comprised my blood for centuries although I am the mirror image of my great-great grandmother and now my mother tongue tastes more foreign than blood sausage stew.
collages by Grace Ren
handwritten title here “An exercise in the imagination” by Alan Fang poems by Alan Fang photography by David In
My Father is like a fishing boat out at sea, sometimes the water is tranquil, sometimes stormy. He hunches over the dining table, doing paperwork in his computer chair with extra lumbar support, his multifocal wire frames. And sometimes he sinks, so his eyes become fogged evenings in jinan, his voice the crashing surf of the yellow sea. I think he regrets telling me because I ask to know more, when we are alone and kind to each other. He drops his gaze and says, it was a difficult time. So, I have gone searching for answers myself.
I was 15 when my Father told me he was a student leader at tiananmen square. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of it.
if you must leave, then disappear completely. this is where my father failed. took the train into beijing. took the square. seized his small freedoms. wore the china daily on his head as a crown. wore his fingers like a skein of swans aimed at the forsaken pavement of smoke, ash and limbs. when the tanks rolled in, and the soldiers rolled in, and the summer rolled in, the charade was over. and the students, wishing to keep their lives, left into the night. they sang until their throats were ribbon. they marched in rhythm, their exhausted feet pulsing with each step, their stomachs aching with stale bread, their blood coursing, eyes downcastâ€”this must be a betrayal. back then, my Father was lean, he looked like me, kept looking at the bright moon.
Thatâ€™s what he wanted his last memory of this night to be. not crying faces. not singing voices. not the body of a bicycle in tatters in the road, frame bent and leaking daylight. west of here, fireworks shook the air until dawn. this might be perilous. If he closed his eyes, he could pretend his feet were taking him to the far, orchid-white moon not the darkness of his Party-allocated apartment within a year, my Father had left everything and leapt over the ocean, he stopped smoking. my Mother too, she stopped perming her hair. it was almost perfect, but he had me inherit those moon-watching eyes of his youth. when he could have let them burn to ash as that night immolated itself.
When we are b almost 19.
We visit my F little boxes, no larger than stacked high
with pocket-si filled with dus
I recognize the in a cramped E until I could w the wrong wor asking for win This might be tearing up,
When we are back in China, I am older, in front my We visit my Fatherâ€™s family grave,oflittle cousins, and st m no larger than my stomach, in a room with pocket-sized photos and boxes, fill HeShe is all smilem I recognize the old woman. raised walk, until I could use Once in Chine the wrong word for juice, jiu, like I was so nai But nai can This might be my imagination. I sta Once in Englis in front of my uncles and aunts, my two He is all smiles and says everything twi so nai nai can understand. Once in Engl
3. When we are back in China, I am older, almost 19.
back in China, I am older,
Fatherâ€™s family grave, my stomach, in a room
ized photos and boxes, st.
my imagination. But I start
no larger than my stomach, in a room stacked high with pocket-sized photos and boxes, filled with dust. I recognize the old woman. She raised me in a cramped East Manhattan apartment, until I could walk, until I could use the wrong word for juice, jiu, like I was asking for wine. This might be my imagination. But I start tearing up, in front of my uncles and aunts, my two favorite cousins, and my Father.
, almost 19. He is all smiles and says everything twice. e uncles boxes,and aunts, my two favorite Once in Chinese my Father. tacked high led with dust. so nai nai can understand. es everything twice. meand in asays cramped East Manhattan apartment, until I could Once in English so I can too. ese
s asking for wine. understand. art tearing up, sh so I cancousins, too. and my Father. o favorite ice. Once in Chinese lish so I can too.
e old woman. She raised me East Manhattan apartment, walk, until I could use rd for juice, jiu, like I was ne.
We visit my Fatherâ€™s family grave, little boxes,
Scene one, under the Beijing sun. Coming out of Tiananmen West, is like rising from an early grave, right under the gaze of Uncle Mao’s indulgent eye. Ambulances on standby. My Mother can’t handle dry heat, her face blooming red as patriotic flowerbeds, she waits within the underpass. My Father and I walk in ripe circles around the Mausoleum. Stubborn and feeling the arrogance of adulthood, I ask him again, perhaps for the last time, as though I have a right to know. Was this your moment in the sun? He stares ahead, past my line of questioning, past the attention of green-fitted army guards. Then tells me, we have the blood of soldiers, coursing through our veins, spreading over the Square, pooling at its edges, seeping into the earth, trickling from pins stuck through shirt collars, keeping our posture. Then tells me, if you so wish to escape the heat of the sun, you must crawl into Tiananmen’s underbelly, Mother will be waiting, sit on the stoop, see the woman selling glutinous rice ice pops, back hunched, two yuan each: Suck the flavor, so cold and so sweet, let it melt between your lips.
photography by Andrew Cho words by Seunghyun Natalia Woo
In a quite dramatic and immature sense, I wanted to set fire to the mountain of Korean-language practice books that my mother had stacked in the closet. I dreaded every single one of those books, all too familiar with their tedious content. Yet these practice books offered a unique opportunity to curate and evaluate my Korean American identity. The English language was perplexing. Having immigrated to the United States only speaking Korean, I stepped into daycare with just the imminently necessary English that my parents taught me: “yes,” “no,” and “I need to pee.” As I quickly mastered English and the American culture, I began to lose my previous one. While I still ate kimchi when I got home and watched Korean dramas alongside Nickelodeon, I began to lose my grasp of the Korean language. Korean words would get stuck at the tip of my tongue or accidentally roll off with a thick American accent. The miscommunication with my parents, who could only speak Korean, frustrated my mother- who then took the initiative to fix the issue by re-teaching me Korean. Though her solution seemed simple, the actual experience was awful. Back then, I could not perceive the rationale behind completing additional Korean workbooks when I already had enough homework from school. While other mothers required their children to complete geometry homework before playing outside, my mother required me to complete Korean homework instead. I was always bored and fed up with reading and answering questions in Korean as I itched to play my Nintendo. Inevitably, my Korean soon significantly improved following all the tantrums I threw; I perfected how to read, write, and speak again. Although I stubbornly will probably never admit it to my mother, I know my fluency in Korean has become a valuable skill set that allows me to communicate with my family and community. I evade less phone calls with grandparents abroad, fostering relationships that I otherwise would not have been able to acquire. I am my mother’s translator, an expert at whispering direct translations at the shopping mall, grocery store, or even at home when my school friends come to visit. And, I have met new friends and formed relationships that otherwise would have been prevented by language barriers. Beyond, my fluency of Korean and English has provided me with two different perspectives who offer unique insight that blur the lines between linguistic barriers. My manipulation of languages has established a fundamental and flourishing space to stretch my creative and critical thinking, quintessential to prospering my Asian American, dual identity.
â€œResting Placeâ€? is an image and text piece. The poem is inspired by this secluded lake house, bringing it to life and transcending beyond
photography & poem by Grace Lee
through the leaves lay the house before me it stood perfectly aged stock still as life grew inside its body birds chirped overhead twigs cracked underfoot one last peek before i leave this forever home my eyes frozen open and my body rigid straight carried by four strong arms away into my final resting place its nature as simply an aesthetic building.
an interview words b
w by Beatrice Shim by Yeena Yoon
Hannah is a sophomore Graphic Design major at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) who frequently moved between South Korea and the United States. Yuchae is a sophomore Film and Video artist at MICA, born in Gwacheon, Korea and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Yan, one of the models for this project, is a sophomore Printing major at MICA who grew up in Beijing, China before coming to Baltimore. This project is born out of a collective desire to not only encourage language diversity, but to also visualize how languages could carry oneâ€™s culture and identity. Hannah and Yuchaeâ€™s clothing line, Beautiful Struggle, raises awareness regarding the importance of language, and reminds observers to appreciate their connections to language. It challenges viewers to re-examine the subtleties inscribed in their mother tongue, and notice how personality and expression can transform in translation.
Fashion show photography by Evelyn Ivy, edited by Hannah Ahn Interview photography by Beatrice Shim
Excerpt from a conversation with Hannah and Yuchae How did you guys mutually agree on a single theme for this project? Y: We began by talking about what we individually wanted to make. At the time, I was into a flowy and silky aesthetic. Hannah was taking a Typography class and was interested in printing. H: We had these ideas in mind before we arrived at a concept, and we shared the aesthetic visions. I was taking a Typography class where I learned to look at language and type as design, rather than a simply legible thing. I explored the possibility of design with so many languages beyond English. One night, I just came over to Yuchae’s room and we started taking notes on the concept of “language.” How much of this project was inspired by your Korean roots? H: We ended up going with our initial designs, but half of them came from random things that we were inspired by. We looked into Hanbok (Korean traditional-wear) for specific references. Y: My inspirations come from the Korean sensitivity and delicacy. [These elements are present] in the Korean language, especially in how we explain things or speak. I wanted to visualize and textualize Korean feelings, the delicacies and sensitivities inherent to the language.
H: [The models and designers] communicate on another level because we all can communicate in both languages. I didn’t really realize how special interchanging languages was, coming to MICA. The reason why I really pushed Yuchae to model was because part of our line is all about that: us being able to communicate bilingually. I think it made more sense to have her story & her directly in the work; communication is such a big part of this line that’s centered around language. I saw different languages like Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish printed on the clothing. Apart from the actual language on the designs, did the model’s heritage play into the design elements of the clothing? What was the process like? Y: We expanded the idea once we interviewed the models and realized there was a disconnect with language. The design itself was mostly just decided based on aesthetic value, but the themes from this were about “connection,” “disconnection,” and “transparency” in language. We tried to visualize this through elements like half layers, and transparent clothing. H: In terms of designing the garments, we also took into consideration what the models would usually wear. It’s interesting because you’re incorporating the models’ present styles, and I’m sure their styles have, at least partially, evolved from their backgrounds. H: That’s what we really tried to push – it was all about the individual models. Yes, there was an overarching concept that we wanted to discuss through our work, but it was also all about the models. Y: --and their individual stories.
Do the other models speak the languages of their heritage (language printed on the garment)? H: Declan (one of the models) is very interesting. His friends were all Hispanic and he learned Spanish through his friends and his participation in protests. Protests? H: He’s an activist for issues in the Hispanic community. Y: Even the name of our line, “A Beautiful Struggle,” came from his interview. H: It was a moment. Y: Yeah it was a moment. He was like “it’s a beautiful struggle.” H: It is always a struggle, Y: Yeah it’s a struggle – like how I learned English when I first moved to Melbourne. You live in Melbourne and sometimes you miss things in Korea. Communicating with people from different cultures, how you express things…everything is a struggle when you learn a new language. How does that slogan “a beautiful struggle” resonate with each of you guys? I feel like we all have different and unique experiences with language being a beautiful struggle to us. H: Hearing that phrase from someone else was so touching because we all have such different experiences, yet the way we feel about it is somewhat mutual. Y: Personally, when I first moved to Melbourne, learning English and adjusting to a new environment where no one spoke Korean was so stressful to me. For the first three years, I felt so alone and everything was difficult. Declan sounded like he understood my struggles and emotions, even though he doesn’t really know.
a poem by Ying Zhang
Her pointer finger Plucks the first string of the Shamisen Ring . . . Mother and father and brother Embrace her. The hanbok drapes over her Featherweight body As they celebrate the first birthday, Doljanchi Ring . . . The middle finger Grabs the second string, The shamisen vibrates Ring . . . Men with slanted eyes Bark in syllabic words So harsh Rip her away from the Arms of her mother. They put her on a boat With other Koreans, with other daughters, They cry together.
Ring . . . Her ring finger Strikes the last string. The shamisen cuts skin Blood drips. Ring . . . They slap white powder on her face, Paint her lips red, Strip her Of her hanbok Throw a yukata Over her Place her in a room with Predatory men that Smell of sake And sweat And drool. Force the shamisen in her hands. Her hand strums The shamisen Her blood paints the three strings Ring . . . Comfort woman.
poems by Alan Fang
For Vincent Chin I had a fantasy of saving you. Those white men would never have split your head in two, if only they knew how a watermelon cracks its rind, filled with ruby ink inside. Though the body dies, it stays in memory, face drained of color, oilsmoke curling into your eyes.
For Theresa Hak Kyung Cha I had a fantasy of saving you. Is there really beauty in destruction? You love the transfiguration of words. The body may compress, may shatter, but dictation endures. I am just your dictee, still I had a fantasy.
For Joseph Ileto I had a fantasy of saving you, the only casualty was you on your daily rounds, nine rounds divided your body over the asphalt. Was it the fault of your uniform or your skin, or are we asking the wrong questions? That day in August, you prayed after waking.
For Srinivas Kuchibhotla I had a fantasy of saving you. But maybe it was a blessing, having braved the clouded ocean and sky, for what? Maybe we donâ€™t belong here, you and I, maybe it was blessing, brother, that you return to Hyderabad, to your mother, sooner than expected.
For Fufai Pun, Thank Kheong Ng and Tsz Pun I had a fantasy of saving you. Was it out of love that hammer met bone? It may be that hunger and rage are born the same wayâ€” a buffet became home to a massacre of snow bearing down your skulls. But the plates will be spinning again next week.
NOON issue 1 Spring 2019
R O S
Our first issue is a product of our own existential confusion about the relationship between our personal histories, everyday experiences, a...
Published on Sep 2, 2020
Our first issue is a product of our own existential confusion about the relationship between our personal histories, everyday experiences, a...