May 20 – June 11, 2022

Soojung Kong
Cecilia Liểu Nguyễn
Jayme Wong
Carlmelo Ibanez
Wylwyn Reyes

Opening Reception: May 20, 2022. 6-9PM
Closing Reception: June 3, 2022. 6-9PM

“To correct this, the petit-bourgeois selfishness or individualism and rejection of organizational discipline must be uprooted. It can be done through education and active ideological struggle. The spirit of selflessness and subordinating self-interest to the interest of the whole must be upheld.” 

Modified Arts is excited to announce “Uprooted,” a group exhibition including contemporary artists from the Asian diaspora that reside on Akimel O’odham, Hohokam, O’odham Jeweḍ, (Phoenix, AZ) Tohono O’odham, Sobaipuri, (Tucson, AZ) Suquamish, Duwamish, Stillaguamish and Coast Salish  sacred lands. (Seattle, WA)

The title of this exhibition, “Uprooted” refers to a revolutionary study, The Activist Study (Araling Aktibista), or ARAK as it’s known, that is a required text for Filipino activists. The study also highlights Mao Zedong’s Five Golden Rays that teaches principles and lessons for activists on shaping and forming their revolutionary practice.

The artists present works that investigate their reflections living within the imperial core as they seek to resist the perils of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, feudalism, and cultural assimilation within their specific cities and back abroad in their motherlands, including the Philippines, Việt Nam, China and Korea. To demand the dignity and livelihoods of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders within the US Empire, especially in a time in which they have been targeted to racist hate crimes, would mean to also dismantle the issues that systematically exploit their families and peoples from their home country. 

These artists also have experiences uplifting their local communities and being active members in social, queer, revolutionary movements and organizing spaces. For them to create art during a time of political unrest globally, becomes an additional revolutionary practice. The work of Soojung Kong, Cecilia Liểu Nguyễn, Jayme Wong, Carlmelo Ibanez and Wylwyn Reyes examine the importance of uprooting rotten systems of oppression and establishing a collective understanding of international unity, solidarity and liberation.

Curated by Katherine Del Rosario. Support provided by Modified Arts, Kimber Lanning, Merryn Alaka, Melissa Koury, Buzzy Sullivan and Desert Diwata

Soojung Kong

Soojung Kong is a diasporic Korean interdisciplinary culture worker based in so-called phoenix, arizona. They serve as vessel to their ancestors’ forgiving and vengeful prayers, and in their work explore and condemn some of american imperialism’s many curses and fists. They love boiling-hot soups, crying, and working with Desert Diwata.

I am a poet, performer, singer, songwriter, devotee, premonition, garlic-enthusiast, vessel, and rememberer. My hope is to serve as a tool for the remembering of my ancestors and descendants. My intention is to explicitly name What Has Been Done to Us, in hopes of brightening the path towards Where We Are Going, and how we will alter/altar the course.

Cecilia Liểu Nguyễn

Cecilia Liểu Nguyễn is a tenant union organizer currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. She learned how to crochet from her mom and bà ngoai at 12 and is now rediscovering needlework while unlearning/relearning about Việt Nam through an anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, revolutionary lens. She feels it is imperative that the Vietnamese diaspora in the imperial core fight collectively against American hegemony and western propaganda, and regain closeness to their ancestral homelands

I crochet to connect with my mother, her mother, her mothers’ mother; a maternal lineage of needlework. When I was younger, my bà ngoai would knit sweaters, robes, shirts for my sisters and I. We’d wear her pastel pink, purple and red creations every season, to school, to bed until we completely outgrew them and the yarn would not stretch. For my work on “Kính mừng Maria” and “Chị là người nước nào?” I wanted to carry the safety, protectiveness and comfort I felt from crochet into my understanding of tradition and revolution in Việt Nam, the meaning of militarized refuge(es) – the narrative of seeking ‘refuge’ in America coupled with the ‘organized forgetting’ of violent U.S. foreign policy.“Vietnamese Americans as refugees occupy the position of self-mourners because no one else mourns us.” (Nguyên-Vo Thu-Huong) What makes for a grievable life?

To support my work, donate to Worried About Rent (WAR), a tenant organizing group combating deep-rooted racial and economic exploitation in Maricopa County, by building solidarity with our neighbors. We organize autonomous tenant unions because the only way we can guarantee safe housing for all is by standing up together.

Donate to www.bit.ly/wardonate

Jayme Wong

Jayme Wong is a third generation Taishanese diaspora whose grandparents immigrated away from living conditions created under Japanese occupation. Her work (across printmaking, design, and movement) is an attempt to reconcile the pieces of family history, culture, and language she can gather. She finds joy in dance, unspoken moments with loved ones, and working with Desert Diwata.

Carlmelo Ibanez

Carlmelo Ibanez is a child of two filipino migrants whose families were displaced from their homelands during martial law under the brutal dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. They are an anti-imperialist grassroots organizer as a member of filipino youth and student organization Anakbayan. They are also the Secretary General of the International League of Peoples Struggle Seattle Tacoma. Ibanez devotes their life to the liberation of The Philippines and to facilitating the bonds between international liberation struggles. To cope with & process the crisis of imperialism, they make music, digital art, and poetry.

Wylwyn Reyes

Wylwyn Reyes is a Filipino visual artist & designer. His practice isshaped by concepts of cultural identity, colonialism, religion, appropriation, erasure, & assimilation.

Wylwyn was born in Manila, Philippines in 1978. He emigrated with his family to the United States in the early 80’s during the authoritarian rule of Ferdinand Marcos. He has spent the majority of his life in the American Southwest. His practice is largely derived from his experiences as a Filipino immigrant growing up in predominantly white communities.

Wylwyn has exhibited work in group exhibitions, art galleries, and experimental art spaces throughout the US. He presented a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson in 2013. He has also worked collaboratively with other artists, curators, and designers in events such as Night of the Living Fest Music Festival, Bookclub Burlesque show series, Tohono O’odham Cultural Center & Museum, the Jewish History Museum, Modified Arts Gallery, Steinfeld Community Arts Center, Fluxx Studios, Studio 455, Joseph Gross Gallery, and pop-up art shows throughout the downtown Tucson and Phoenix areas.

He is co-owner of Good Things Tucson, and a member of SUBSPACE Art Collective. Along with his art practice he works as a Freelance Designer & Curator. He currently manages public art programs for the City of Tucson with the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art: Three-Dimensional Design at the University of Arizona in 2015.

Gallery Hours:
Local First Arizona staff:
Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Gallery staff:
First Friday, 6-9 p.m.
Third Friday, 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, 11-3 p.m.
Or by appointment, scheduled by E-mail: [email protected]

Modified Arts
407 E. Roosevelt St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004