SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco’s Asian Museum of Art unveiled 3 new commissions that will be exhibited to the public in autumn 2020, including a mural by Chanel Miller, the survivor who Brock Turner assaulted in a highly publicized sexual assault on Stanford’s campus in 2015. The other two artists are Jenifer K Wofford, and Jas Charanjiva. All three artists have ties to the Bay Area and are of Asian-descent, although they were born outside of Asia.
Charanjiva, a graphic design artist of Indian descent created a 318 square foot rooftop mural titled “Don’t Mess With Me” (2020). The piece features a color palette of bright pink, black and yellow, and depicts a comic book-like profile of a woman in traditional Indian bridal dress, with brass knuckles in yellow reading “Boom.” Charanjiva announced that the piece was made in response to a fatal 2012 gangrape of a Delhi student.
Wofford’s commission is a piece is entitled Pattern Recognition, and is meant to celebrate Asian-American artists from the Bay Area, in a colorful 1980s popart-style aesthetic that can be viewed from the street outside the museum. In a video interview with the Asian Art Museum, Wofford described some of her inspiration behind the mural:
“Pattern Recognition incorporates cheerful bold colors, graphic patterns, and comic-strip speech bubbles as a way of paying tribute to the intertwined creative legacies of Asia and Asian America. The patterns and motifs reference varies craft and design traditions from the Asian Art-Museum collection as well as neighboring Asian communities. The speech bubbles name-check various Bay Area figures from Asian American art history. The late 1980s design aesthetic of the mural reflects my interest in the year 1989, an international turning point that comes up often in my work.”
Miller’s piece is a 1000 square foot triptych printed on vinyl, and can also be viewed from the street. It is entitled I Was, I Am, I Will Be, and depicts a charming creature in a simple linear style. In the first panel, the character is depicted balled up on the floor crying, with the words “I was” above it. In the second panel the character is depicted sitting on the floor in a meditative position, with the words “I am” written above it. In the last panel, the character is depicted getting up off the ground and walking away, with “I will be” written above it.
In an interview with the Art Newspaper, Miller said she hopes the work will be a reassuring presence for others going through a dark time:
“I think the worst times for me was when I believed that damage was permanent, or that my life would be frozen in one moment. Very simply and clearly expressing that we are always in transition, I hope, is enough to make you realize that wherever you are in your journey… you will never be stuck.”