The Wing Luke’s new exhibit, Worlds Beyond Here: The Expanding Universe of APA Science Fiction, takes the viewer on a journey from a young fan’s bedroom to the far reaches of imagination and creativity itself.
A dim bedroom filled with books and items quintessential to youth stirs up memories of one’s own bedroom, a place where discovery is possible through books and comics and television. Many of us can look back upon our childhoods and remember hours spent consuming Star Wars content and H.G. Wells novels, exploring new worlds in our own bedrooms.
From this room, the exhibit takes the viewer on a tour through different spaces, looking at sci-fi works as beacons of the APA experience while highlighting work made by and being inclusive of Asian Pacific Americans.
Star Trek memorabilia, a look at technology and innovation, multimedia work from local artists through commissioned installations and sprawling murals — the exhibit features a range of artifacts and interactive installations.
The genre of science fiction itself holds themes pertinent to the APA experience. Often science fiction has been used to explore the human experience through narratives that have the ability to reach across time and space. Alienation, identity and home are a few themes Worlds Beyond Here discusses in a time where these themes are very relevant to immigrants and minorities.
An important goal of the exhibit was to showcase the work of Asian Pacific Americans within the genre in a different light. Historically, representation of Asian Pacific Americans in mainstream science fiction and media has primarily been seen through stereotypes and orientalism; the genre itself dominated by white males.
“When people are creators at the helm, representation looks and feels very different,” said exhibit developer Mikala Woodward.
Inherent in the genre is the power of world building and imagining the world differently. When people of color are the creators and are the voices behind these works and themes, are the world builders, said Woodward, it can be empowering. It can leave audiences, especially youth, with the knowledge that they can write their own stories or movies.
Showcasing APA creators provides “young visitors examples and role models and inspiration to see themselves doing this too,” said Woodward, at the end leaving them with the mindset of, “Okay, I’m ready to tell my own story.”
In a world where representation and the experience of immigrants and minorities continue to be important conversations, Worlds Beyond Here thinks about how writers and creators can use storytelling to bridge these talks and celebrate those that embrace these narratives through what they create.
Worlds Beyond Here is on view at the Wing Luke Museum now through Sept. 15, 2019.