The art gallery in the Stamp Student Union is usually quiet, echoing only with the footsteps of visitors looking at artwork displayed around the small room. However, on Friday evening the room echoed with the voices of student poetry performers.
The event was held in honor of the Asian American/Diasporic experience focusing on Asian American women. Some performers were from a spoken word collective on campus called TOTUS, others never performed before.
Jagjot Battu, freshman biology major performed a few short pieces at the event, revolving around women’s rights issues. Battu has been writing poetry for only a few years now, but she said it helped her work through hardships. “It’s really been a good way to heal,” she said.
“I feel like I have grown up with a lot of the stigmas and stereotypes associated with Asian American families,” Battu said.
Elizabeth Kim, sophomore government and politics major, helped develop the ideas surrounding the event. She is an Asian American and Pacific Islander student advocate intern at the MICA office, the vice president of external affairs for the Asian American student union and is the vice president of UMD Feminists.
The event was about “using art as a tool for reclaiming our voices, reclaiming our bodies that are so often shamed or told what to do … and reclaiming our history, our culture, our experiences that are often reworded for us,” Kim said.
The prevalence of being silenced both in history and in present day classrooms was present. One student shared the story of when she was forced by her teacher to pick a new name for herself because the teacher could not pronounce her name. Kim said the art showcased here can be a form of resistance and combatting this omnipresent silence.
The poetry was not the only art showcased here as there were multiple art pieces by students. One was two long planks of wood, both riddled with puncture marks from screws that were staged side by side. They were meant to be walked between.
Another piece covered the wall next to the performers. It was by an MFA Candidate at the university and was titled “The pattern of the Thing Precedes the Thing.” It consisted of index cards marked with lines of red and blue.
The event centered on the concepts of intergenerational traumas and healing while performers explored concepts from love to domestic violence to a love letter to their mother.
Toward the end of the performance, attendees were shaken by a stillness created by a guitarist who interrupted the poem to play “Take Care” by Beach House. Everyone shifted sideways to face her as she sat near one of the art pieces on the side of the room. Her voice was eerie and comforting, it seemed to relieve any remaining nervousness that any of the performers still felt. After her piece, the room seemed thoughtful.
Featured Photo Credit: Andrew Mayton, a University of Maryland alumnus, speaks in front of a small crowd inside The Stamp Gallery. (Josh Loock/Bloc Reporter)
Raye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.