The Siren Hotel, Detroit, MI
Disparate was an online exhibition/fundraiser to uplift the AAPI community.
Through an act of kindness two disparate paintings made on substrates that represent myriad cultures will be united to create one harmonious work of art and serve as a reminder that although we may seem worlds apart, we can choose to stand united.
Together we raised $10,620 for www.hateisavirus.org!
Disparate is a perplexing look at how we live and interact in temporary, permanent, physical and digital spaces simultaneously and separately. Disparate explores the quandary of being Asian and American, and how opposites can be united.
In Disparate, Korean-Detroit artist and designer Mike Han creates paintings on torn atlas pages from States across America, and countries from around the world. These location based substrates provide a backdrop to have a conversation about race and culture as they intersect in America. The artist’s line work speaks to our unique individuality, the chaos of life, and the seldom seen truth that while we may seem polar opposite, we want the same things in life: love, respect, and freedom.
Disparate is created and installed at The Siren Hotel which mirrors the modern day paradox of place and American culture.
The Siren is a physical place whose purpose is to welcome guests from across the US and from around the world to provide people hospitality and comfort while they are away from home. The hotel is both permanent and temporary. It’s guests are local and international. The duality of this physical space further illustrates the quandary of everyday life as two distinctly different truths are often true simultaneously which is not unlike the artist’s everyday reality of being Asian and American.
Asians are often viewed in America as foreigners, and sometimes treated as though they don’t belong. This is true for immigrants, naturalized citizens, and natural born citizens of Asian descent. Disparate hopes to cultivate a better understanding of what being American looks like.
Disparate was installed inside two different rooms at The Siren Hotel but can only experienced by the public in digital space. The artwork hung in each room is opposite, yet the same. The “positive” image were painted with an instrument designed for graffiti on US State maps, while the “negative” images were painted across countries from around the world with a brush to honor one of Mike's ancestors, Han Seok-Bong, who was considered one of the greatest calligraphers in Korean history.
The paintings are culturally different in context of the substrates, and are segregated geo-politically and physically by the design of the installation. Each painting is unique but corresponds to work in the other room. They were painted separately, hung in different rooms on different floors of The Siren Hotel, and the pair of opposite/corresponding works are united by a collector who completes the diptych.
Disparate was created at The Siren Hotel during an artist residency program curated by Sarah Ayers from March 22nd - 29th, 2021.
A week prior to Han's residency, a hate crime was committed against six Asian American women which shook the AAPI community.
During his residency, Mike participated in two anti-racism demonstrations in downtown Detroit, and contemplated his work in reflection of being Asian American, and confronted the racism he experienced growing up in predominately caucasian communities and the lasting effects of wanting to assimilate with white culture.
Han has spent 10 years trying to develop confidence in his Korean-American identity. This has been a challenging journey as his perspective of what is good and acceptable comes with a strong societal bias. This is felt in his devalued sense of self because his Korean heritage. Times are changing, and Han is hopeful that one day that immigrants and people of color can be viewed and embraced as Americans.
This body of work is dedicated to Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Yong Ae Yue, and Suncha Kim, the six Asian American women who were murdered on March 16th, 2021 in an act of hate and domestic terrorism.
Disparate was photographed by Diana Paulson, lineaphoto.com