Shop Feature: Wing Luke Museum Marketplace

Identity has always been a complex topic for me. Since moving to America, I have always had a sense of unbelonging. My family roots are in India, but I was born in England, and moved to the US in Junior High. I can speak Mandarin fluently but my Punjabi is at a child's level. When people ask where I'm from, I always feel unsure what they're asking. Are they asking why my accent is a bit odd, what part of the world my brown skin comes from, or where I live in currently? Are they trying to identify with me to connect and bond, or are they treating me as other and want to find an appropriate label?
Now I often feel like a bit of a chameleon. I feel safe in sharing the parts of myself that are common with whoever I interact with, and don't always disclose the rest of me. I have realized over time that this isn't unique to me, it's something that many other immigrants and their children experience. I am most able to be my fullest self in the company of people who have similar lived experience of unbelonging, and those who have made the effort to understand it. I don't worry about not being Indian enough, or not being American enough, or how my accent is not quite any one thing in those spaces. I feel seen and heard. 

"The Wing Luke Museum is an art and history museum in Seattle, Washington, United States, which focuses on the culture, art and history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. It is located in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. Established in 1967, the museum is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and the only pan-Asian Pacific American community-based museum in the United States.

Marketplace is more than a gift shop. Our store sources from over 100 small businesses as part of our commitment to being a community-based organization. Proceeds from our Marketplace support our exhibitions and youth programs."

When I was approached by Ellison of the Wing Luke Museum Marketplace at the end of 2022 asking when I might be finished with my lunar zodiac series, I was delighted. I have long since had a community of friends and family and neighbors who make me feel like I belong. I have also been given a space for my artwork in the galleries and shops of many wonderful people who accept me in my entirety. But this is the first shop I have had my work represented in that is a space specifically dedicated to showcasing the work and history of people like me. Having my art included in such a space, and knowing the proceeds from those sales goes towards supporting other AANHPI makers is validating and rewarding in a way I didn't know I craved. 

If you are ever in Seattle, I hope you'll stop by to find my work there and explore this amazing place!

"SquidCat, Ink’s whimsical and colorful illustrations bring some much-needed light to the world and creates heartfelt connections with visitors in our store."

- Ellison, Wing Luke Museum Marketplace buyer

You can read more about the Marketplace here.
You can read more about the Museum here.

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