L.A. artist commemorates Monterey Park victims with portraits

L.A. artist commemorates Monterey Park victims with portraits

When Jonathan D. Chang visits the 626, he typically wears a black hoodie emblazoned with a colourful print of Guangong on the again. A army basic from the Three Kingdoms period turned Taoist guardian deity, Guangong, or Guan Yu, is thought all through China and components of Vietnam as a logo of wealth and safety. Chang’s hoodie options his personal design of the deity, which he drew in traditional chibi style with an enormous head and smaller limbs.

Jonathan D. Chang stands facing the vigil at Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Jan. 25, 2023.

Jonathan D. Chang stands going through the vigil at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park final week. A drawing of a Guangong is printed on the again of his hoodie.

(Helen Li / Los Angeles Occasions)

“Once I was rising up, I used to be all the time type of petrified of the determine as a result of it was a purple face,” Chang says. “Ugly, intimidating, nevertheless it was actual.”

Lately, Guangong has been on Chang’s thoughts lots. “I really feel like there’s a lot negativity and violence taking place. Wouldn’t or not it’s good if there was a determine defending us after we really want it?”

As Chang displays on this, he’s standing on the outer ridge of a vigil final Wednesday night on the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, the place a gunman killed 11 individuals on the primary day of the Lunar New 12 months. Chang was shocked to study of the shootings; he had been in Alhambra the evening earlier than, consuming New 12 months’s Eve dinner together with his mom and grandparents. “I by no means thought it will occur in our space, particularly our personal yard — a spot that so many Asian People on this space name house. It’s the place we go to eat dim sum with our grandparents or have our first date with our girlfriends,” he says.

Whereas wrestling with grief, Chang determined to attract illustrations of the victims, depicting Ming Wei Ma, 72; Mymy Nhan, 65; Diana Tom, 70; Xiujuan Yu, 57; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; Yu-Lun Kao, 72; Hongying Jian, 62; Wen-Tau Yu, 64; Chia Ling Yau, 76; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; and LiLan Li, 63. Every portrait, drawn with a Wacom Intuos Professional pill and edited utilizing Adobe Photoshop, has vibrant colours. Chang shared these portraits on his Instagram, with captions detailing every individual’s life and the affect they’d on these round them, and linking to GoFundMe campaigns launched by surviving relations.

Monterey Park shooting victim Mymy Nhan.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Mymy Nhan.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim Wen-Tau Yu.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Wen-Tau Yu.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim Xiujuan Yu.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Xiujuan Yu.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Though he by no means meant his Instagram account to be a information supply, he’s conscious that it has helped strangers have conversations with their buddies about robust matters. Emphasizing individuals’s humanity is what has impressed Chang to attract portraits of these killed in shootings and people affected by the rise in anti-Asian violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to occasions that maybe don’t make nationwide headlines. He feels that this strategy helps to “carry our group nearer … versus simply studying a blip on a web site.”

Born in Taiwan, Chang moved to the Los Angeles space together with his mom when he was 3 years outdated after his father died. He largely grew up in Temple Metropolis and attended the now-shuttered New Avenue college. His mom labored in actual property on Valley Boulevard at an escrow firm, the place he spent evenings on the workplace along with her, drawing on clean items of copy paper. The household briefly relocated to Tampa, Fla., for a couple of years earlier than ultimately returning to Southern California. In Tampa, Chang says he was the “solely Asian child for miles” and remembers having to “defend his Asianness” continuously. Fortunately, his mom inspired him to embrace his identification. Whereas Chang gravitated towards artwork courses at Arcadia Excessive Faculty, he was admittedly “not pupil,” he chuckles, although he met his fiancée in a kind of programs.

Los Angeles’ variety has lengthy nurtured his inventive strategy. Surrounded by completely different diasporic cultures, Chang would go to Monterey Park to eat Singapore noodles and sizzling pot rising up. He would take a look at the little capsule machines with Dragon Ball Z holographic buying and selling playing cards outdoors of a Chinese language bookstore in Focus Plaza. On the Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo, he would nerd out on all the artwork books, video video games and comics animations. These childhood obsessions, Chang says, knowledgeable his playful chibi drawing fashion: one thing that has stayed with him as a multidisciplinary designer and illustrator for toy merchandise and even merch for Andrew Yang’s 2020 marketing campaign.

Whereas working a 9-to-5 as an artwork director at OnChain Studios, Chang has to shift what he calls “group service” artwork time to the evenings. He has a backlog of portraits that he’s engaged on and has spent the final week at his dinner desk creating portraits of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio victims.

Monterey Park shooting victim Diana Tom.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Diana Tom.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim Hongying Jian.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Hongying Jian.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim Muoi Dai Ung.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Muoi Dai Ung.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

In February 2021, Chang drew a vibrant, colourful portrait of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, a Thai immigrant who had been attacked and killed a month earlier than whereas strolling within the Bay Space. “My condolences to the household of Vicha Ratanapakdee. I hope justice will likely be served,” Chang captioned his illustration of Ratanapakdee. As anti-Asian violence continued to rise throughout the pandemic, Chang drew and posted portraits of individuals together with Michelle Go, who was pushed onto New York Metropolis subway tracks, and Yao Pan Ma, a restaurant employee who was shoved to the bottom whereas amassing cans. He depicted Asian American heroes like Betty Ong, the flight attendant who reported to American Airways that Flight 11 had been hijacked on 9/11, and Filipino nurses on the frontlines battling the coronavirus.

When 76-year-old grandmother Xiao Zhen Xie fought off an attacker who punched her in San Francisco, Chang created a viral gif of Xiao swinging a baseball bat with the caption “F— round and discover out.” Quickly, Chang’s design of Xiao was printed on 1,000 T-shirts and all of the proceeds went to #StopAsianHate’s AAPI Group Fund. Chang prioritizes working with Asian-owned companies and emphasizes that his artwork shouldn’t be used for revenue. He’s additionally adamant about individuals not misappropriating his artwork for their very own political agendas.

“That was one thing we mentioned proper off the bat,” mentioned Stephanie Tran, co-owner of City Print, the Bay Space print store that labored with Chang. The group reached out to Squarespace to request that processing charges be waived and donated. The shirt gross sales raised greater than $37,000 and had been doubled by a match by way of Goldwater Capital. “Quite a lot of occasions after we work with artists, they’d receives a commission for his or her time or licensing charges. Jonathan is simply actually doing this out of his coronary heart to honor the victims and lift consciousness,” she provides.

“It’s not likely meant to be like this masterpiece work,” Chang says of those portraits. His course of normally entails doing analysis about every particular person and what relations must say about them. He applies flat colours to the piece and throws on a shadow spotlight layer that resembles a halo, which additionally offers the 2-D drawing additional dimension. “They’re achieved extra for pace. It appears like a second in time. I wish to seize a candid second: they’re smiling, they’re getting their picture taken by somebody that they actually cherished. Bear in mind them as they had been, not like this massive tragic factor that occurred to them.”

Monterey Park shooting victim Chia Ling Yau.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Chia Ling Yau.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim LiLan Li.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer LiLan Li.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim Valentino Marcos Alvero.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Valentino Marcos Alvero.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Generally, Chang receives messages from relations who stumble throughout the portraits. Alice Sakaye, the daughter of Maria Liang, the proprietor of Star Ballroom Dance Studio, wrote to him after seeing the portraits of the victims of the taking pictures: “It actually touched me and my mother. Thanks a lot for paying tribute to those that have handed away … they had been longtime buddies and patrons who shared a love for dancing and supported our small enterprise.”

It’s these messages that preserve him going, he says, past the tiring nature of the work and when the information cycle has shifted its consideration elsewhere.

“After the media has gone, after which that is not the information cycle, these households must cope with these items for all times,” he says. “It’s actually vital to humanize our group and to point out that simply because it’s not your loved ones, it might have been. We by no means know.”

He needs people to really feel empowered to use their abilities to local people activism.

“I really feel just like the one factor that we will all agree on is [that] all of us wish to preserve our elders protected. We wish to defend probably the most susceptible in our group,” provides Chang. “And I really feel like so long as we concentrate on that, that’s going to make us unify much more.”

Monterey Park shooting victim Ming Wei Ma.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Ming Wei Ma.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

Monterey Park shooting victim Yu-Lun Kao.

Monterey Park taking pictures sufferer Yu-Lun Kao.

(Jonathan D. Chang)

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