RAIZ is a youth organization in Santa Ana that seeks to empower and organize the youth around social justice issues affecting our community through art, cultural, and popular education.
In 2012, we as forWord had the opportunity to connect and build with RAIZ at the Youth and Resistance Conference. They are an amazing organization that truly makes a difference in the community. By putting theory into practice, RAIZ analyzes, organizes, and mobilizes a youth movement in Santa Ana. We wish them nothing but the very best for the start of a new year!
ITZ HAPPENIN’ Full Moon Open Mic Once Every Full Moon At El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana, CA 8:30 PM - Midnight
At our forWord feature at the ITZ HAPPENIN’ Full Moon Open Mic on April 6th, 2012 in Santa Ana, creative monsters were unleashed and we were there front-and-center to witness the carnage. In all seriousness, the community was as huge as the moon that night. There was a variety of performers like Hip Hop emcees, singers, flute players, poets, comedians, reggae artists, rock bands, and more.
Joese Gloria, one of the organizers and the host for the night, kept it real with freestyle sessions and honest opinions to keep the audience engaged. Nestor aka Illness was the sound engineer for the night and made sure that everyone’s voices were heard clearly and that the beats reverberated our chairs for an awesome evening of creative self-expression.
We loved this open mic! One of the best open mics we’ve ever experienced. We had fun out there. During our set, we performed a poem about our Asian-American identity and cultural competence (still untitled). Susan performed, “A Taste of Home,” Steph and I performed “Are listening now?,” and I ended our set with “Everybody Wants to Be An Activist.” The crowd was very receptive and showed love to everyone not just us. And that is what open mics are all about: Connecting and forging a community through self-expression.
A special shout-out to Sherwin aka ReVerse and Tony aka NOIZE for coming out to support and enjoy the arts with us!
If one night you look outside and there is a full moon, make your way to El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana for one of the best open mics in the area!
As part of VAALA’s Cycles of Life Art Exhibition currently running through April 1, 2012, we’d like to invite community members to register for the My Own Story (MOS) Creative Writing Workshop. Co-presented by VAALA and Common Ground Open Mic Series, MOS is a writing/storytelling workshop facilitated by critically acclaimed performer/teacher Alex Luu. MOS participants will come into a creative space to explore elements that make up their own unique voices/stories. Through fun, non-traditional/interactive games/exercises, participants will be able to unearth, discover, write, and express their own autobiographical stories. The workshop will be held at VAALA Cultural Center, the location of the Cycles of Life art exhibition. The MOS workshop will culminate in a special reading showcase by workshop participants along with music by Common Ground Open Mic performers, Pratiti Renee Mehta and Nina Rae.
When: Saturday, March 31st from 12-5pm Sunday, April 1st from 12-4pm and followed by Reading Showcase and Exhibition Closing reception from 4-6:30pm
Where: VAALA Cultural Center (1600 North Broadway, Santa Ana, CA, 92706)
Who: Open to anyone high school age and up (Youth strongly encouraged)
Fee: $5 Registration includes lunch and refreshments
Note: Participants must be present for both days of workshop
Register soon as there are only 25 spots in the workshop!
***ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST REGISTER***
Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org to register or with any questions about the workshop.
About Alex Luu
Alex Luu is a critically acclaimed solo performance artist, workshop facilitator/teacher, and independent filmmaker who graduated from UCLA’s School of Film/Television. Luu has been performing and facilitating/teaching the MY OWN STORY (MOS) workshop nationally since 1989 and 1997, respectively. Luu’s autobiographical “performance theater” work addresses themes such as identity, racism, body image/politics, family dynamics and the overall under representation of People of Color (especially Asian American males) in mainstream media & culture.
Based in Los Angeles, Luu combines performance art, monologue and physical movement in a kenetic no-holds-barred style and presentation that is at once hilariously-over-the-top and heart-renderingly poignant. Luu’s works have been seen at Highways Performance Space, Boston Center for the Arts, Strand Theater, Japanese American Cultural Community Center, Asian American Writers Workshop, Tremont Theater, Asian American Theater Center, Los Angeles Theater Center, East West Players, Rude Guerilla Theater and college/high school campuses.
About Common Ground Open Mic Series
common ground connects communities through creative expressions. We are a collective of community members, artists, and activists committed to cultivating positive and safe space for artistic growth and community empowerment. Occurs on the first Thursday of every month. www.facebook.com/commongroundoc
About VAALA & Cycles of Life exhibition
The mission of the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) is to connect and enrich communities through Vietnamese art and culture. VAALA’s spring art exhibition entitled “Cycles of Life,” features 24 artistsof Vietnamese descent from different generations, and their work offers for examination whether aspects of culture (Vietnamese, American, other) have influenced the artists’ understanding and interpretation of this theme. Simultaneously, it aims to show how the artists themselves belong to larger cycles of artistic influence. In positioning one generation of artists adjacent to another generation, the exhibit asks whether there are threads of stylistic, cultural, and thematic influence or continuity between artists and artworks. The exhibition is curated by artists Ann Phong, Barbara Thomason, and James Dinh. The gallery will be open from 12pm-5pm (and by appointment) every Saturday and Sunday for the duration of the exhibition. The exhibition is free and open to the public. www.vaala.org
Common Ground is an amazing organization providing an open space for creative expression in Orange County and we are thankful for the diligence in supporting the arts. On Sunday, April 1st, they are hosting this wonderful workshop so if you want to turn those creative writing gears this workshop is for you to start revving up!
On March 1, 2012, forWord was featured at common ground’s March collaboration show with Tuesday Night Project for an all around night of explosive awesomeness. The night was filled with a lot of art and a lot of community and a lot of heart on all ends. It was a little strange for me because I help organize common ground and I was featuring with forWord as well.
Enough about me… on to the show! It was an exciting show for us because fW loves both cg and TNP and they came together to put on a great show. It was our second time featuring at common ground. You can read about the first time here! Mark opened up our set with his Untitled piece about hip hop and then I tagged in with my piece about wanting to kiss someone. Eddy and Stephanie did their new piece about censorship and we closed out our set with a currently untitled piece we’ve only performed one other time at APAAC about being Asian American.
As for the rest of the show, the co-hosts were Cara from cg and Candace from TNP aka C^2 (but squares they were not!). They really upped the ante on awkwardness but in a very warm and hilarious way. It was amazing to share the stage with the other features! Pratiti brought the house down with her beautiful voice and the harmonium, a very interesting Indian instrument, and it was really cool to see the creator of Tuesday Night Project, traci akemi kato-kiriyama, in front of the scenes collaborating with Sue Jin and Jenny San Angel for a poetry and music extravaganza! DJ 2-one was cool as a cucumber!
Shout out to my friend Mai-Thi who sang her soul out on her ukulele and Noize who came out to support and who beatboxes his way into our hearts all the time. One time he chased me down a street in Long Beach after the Definitive Soapbox just to get me to SPIT! That’s love right there!
Much thanks to common ground (Phi, Cara, Sandy) for the invite to perform (cg/susan: you’re welcome!). It was a beautiful night and we were glad to be a part of it!
common ground will be on hiatus but for updates, check the facebook! Also, more photos from the night on the facebook! Tuesday Night Project kick starts their show on April 3rd. Check them out here.
TOMORROW, innovative and energetic spoken word collective ForWord will take the [common ground] stage as part of our March 1st “MERGING MICS” collaboration show with Tuesday Night Project— rumor has it, they’ll be performing some new work. The four-member crew took some time to share about the importance of art+community in their lives:
I love Hip Hop. With that being said, I’ve experienced art playing a significant role in my community. I grew up amongst those who used pencils, microphones, sidewalks, cardboards, aerosol cans, city walls, vinyl records, and mixers to get through the day. Honestly, I was never a master of the four elements, but a sheet of paper and a sharpened pencil went a long way. When I stepped into the open mic scene, I was exposed to not only emcees, but singers, musicians, and poets who all valued the freedom of self-expression. While some nailed high notes and others jammed on guitars, it was through spoken word poetry where I found myself and was able to meet so many good folks during high school, college, and still now. In this community, art is more than a role for me, for us. It is the reason to live. This community I live in and love so much is art expressed.
I think art has been a really effective way to communicate within the community, especially for those who are not comfortable articulating in plain language their feelings and concerns. I feel really lucky to have spaces like TNP and cg— spaces for people to gather, share stories and ideas, connect, and grow together. When they can come together in spaces like TNP and cg and one can feel a part of that, it just feels like you’re a part of something bigger, working toward something bigger than yourself and that’s kind of nice to think about.
The best, and perhaps most convenient, aspect of art is that it’s accessible to everyone. By accessible, I mean it can be enjoyed both as a spectator and a participant. Even further, it is emotionally appealing to the masses and, with respect to the APIA community, has been a vessel for increasing our visibility in the mainstream. The more Asian faces I see on the screen, the more I remember and am self-affirmed: we exist!
Art offers a new avenue to express yourself. There are times when pictures, photographs, dance, paintings/murals, music, and poetry/spoken word hold the attention of an audience longer than a regular conversation. We can utilize that time to talk about politics, world issues, life or whatever else. In the APIA community, and any community for that matter, art is utilized as a way to bring issues that are affecting us into the forefront of the mainstream conversation.
Our “MERGING MICS” show is tomorrow! Bring a friend or ten, and RSVP here. See you soon!
Photo: ForWord on stage at our June 2011 show. Credit: Scott Chan
YES! We will be here tomorrow! See YOU there? Please? =).
We are forWord, an arts collective with an emphasis on spoken word and creative writing. We aspire to encourage self expression, connect with other poets, and improve our creative skills in the process.
Susan Diep, Eddy M. Gana, Jr.,
Mark Maza, and Stephanie Sajor
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