By Che Sehyun

The Future Ancient is the largest public art project I have done, so far, and working in a not-normal pandemic time and subsequent challenges that have arisen have stretched me in unexpectedly difficult and challenging ways.  It’s never all bad—I am grateful for the space, resources, friendships and creative freedom to create public art that reflects and resonates with myself and community. A big thank you to every person who contributed, engaged, supported, etc. as it was not possible without a lot of support, work and learning on the go. The Future Ancient public art team was great to work with and know that this is just he beginning an that life is long!  We wrapped up The Channel’s Season 1: Culture without Borders, which is available to watch on Youtube and Facebook (linktr.ee/futureancient) and wanted to offer a short reflection, overview and what lies ahead.

The Seattle Asian Art museum was closed for three years and then just one month after the February 2020 grand reopening, COVID-19 happened. For myself, I was still working this unprecedented partnership with the City’s Office of Arts & Culture to celebrate the reopening of the museum and offer public programing that centered the lives and perspectives of Asian and Pacific Islanders. My proposal?  Big shout out to DJ Kamakaze, who for the record, was the first person I heard say “Future Ancient,” that this was the key to everything. Along my own journey

The Future Ancient works to value our cultural heritage in a future-forward, socially transformative way, based on our experiences.  In response to the historic moment in the wrongful deaths of #GeorgeFloyd, #BreonnaTaylor and #AhmaudArbery, we expanded our purpose to explore our collective liberation and understand our place in this historic time for social change.  In addition to social media (IG & FB), our artist roster survey develops numerical self-awareness, builds strategic relationships and provides opportunity and professional development to local artists.

Our online programming, The Channel, features interviews, performances and cultural gems from artists who center their cultural futures and our collective liberation.  Season One: Culture Without Borders featured 40+ local and international artists and cultural workers of Tibetan, Cham, Hmong, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, other Asian descent, as well as Black and Indigenous folks. In Episode Seven we featured the entire curatorial team at the Asian Art Museum and we go all out for a two-hour season finale.  You can watch all eight-episodes on YouTube & Facebook.

A BIG THANK YOU to our partners, supporters and the entire Future Ancient public art team!  Future seasons will continue to creatively center our cultural futures and collective liberation so please follow along and support as we go independent!  www.TheFutureAncient.org

By Jamari Venzen 

 This project above all things was a dive into modern artistic expression through the eyes of our collaborators. As Season 1 of the Channel progressed, it became increasingly evident that the project fostered growth and community. Each person involved brought with them their cultural history, which not only granted us an opportunity to begin a collection of varying art forms, but also benefited us with a visual experience of modern artists in a time where it’s not so easy to share their creations.

Visuals aside, the teaching experiences afforded to the production team motivated us to do our best to share those artistic creations with our audience. Looking back, the sounds of the Kora, an ancient Mali instrument played for us by Arsalan Ibrahim would paint a better picture of what The Future Ancient means to us than I believe I could. To this tune, the beautiful conversations had during our interviews, and the literal pictures painted brought life to our cameras educated us all in the duties we have to ourselves because of our backgrounds.

The Channel allowed us to dive deep into the lives of individuals like Joseph Seia, a  Samoa cultural worker and artist who shared that he does not see it as his work but rather the work of his communities because he is keeping traditions alive, thus perpetuating his cultures prominence. Through this lens, our project goals can be magnified to highlight each individual’s definition of artistic expression, and how it shapes them. With the occasional break for delicious food from traditional cultural chefs like Akansha Sinha and Uttam Mukherjee from Spice Waala, or Andrew Hype, a traditional Jamaician chef, those of us involved finished Season 1 with an aftertaste that left us eager to dive deeper into our cultural liberation (if not just for amazing food). With our ears and taste buds now stimulated, the overarching message of the The Future Ancient becomes fully realized. We all owe ourselves an education in our cultural backgrounds in addition to the expression of self, and that is what we aim to encourage with the visuals shared. This in turn illustrates the “invisible thread” that Harriet Walden mentions in Ep. 5, which connects us and brings us together to meet a common goal of collective liberation.

Season 1 was just the beginning of a story; one with infinite possibility because every person involved has a story to tell, a picture to paint, a song to sing, a dance to go with it, and some food to give you some brain fuel when you need it! With this understanding, we encourage our audience to express themselves. Create! Our ancestors not only exist through their art, but also through us, and it is our duty to remember them by sharing their stories as it is our destiny to understand ourselves and share our stories. The Future Ancient are eternally grateful for the opportunity to experience these stories, and can not wait to share more stories brought to light by the resulting community!    

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