This month marks a new chapter for Public Art Reston as I take up the reins of this incredible arts 501(c)(3) non-profit after life was breathed into it by its past executive director, Anne Delaney, and founder, Joe Ritchey.
Without always realizing it, public art lives at the forefront of our daily lives due to our physical proximity to outdoor sculptures, graffiti art, large-scale murals, and so on. Moreover, art is woven into the fabric of our personal environments - right down to the design of the furniture in our homes and the clothing we wear. Likewise, the spectrum of public art planning can be of seismic activity and in other cases the impetus of spontaneity. As a nation, we have collectively witnessed throughout this pandemic how accessible art uplifts entire communities.
Only a few short years ago, my son lived with his father in Reston, right on Lake Audubon. I was fortunate to spend many of my weekends lounging on the sidelines of the soccer fields as I proudly engaged with other eager parents watching our little humans socialize and be part of a team. During those seven years when my son lived here on the weekends, I knew there was something comforting about Reston.
Prior to my Reston visits, I had not spent much time in the suburbs. My formative years were spent mainly in urban spaces - New York City, Austin, Atlanta - and now for the past thirteen years, the District of Columbia. Contrastingly, I looked forward to my time visiting Reston, and my son absolutely loved those enumerable moments with his father. But in retrospect, I could not pinpoint why.
As I have spent the last four weeks upon starting my new position in Bob Simon's planned community, I have picked up on the sense of community and belonging that "Restonians" joyfully experience daily. This sense of welcoming has been eventful, and I look forward to extending my own and others' myriad community connections.
Furthermore, May also happens to be amongst other things Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and as a woman who identifies partly as Asian Pacific Islander, it is a joyous time! My father was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, to a Native Hawai'ian mother and a Filipino father. My father's formative years were mainly spent between Honolulu and Manila. Throughout my life, I have been activating spaces through learned Kānaka Maoli knowledge via the original Hawai'ian art of storytelling -- hula kahiko and hula 'auana.
As May is a month to bring awareness to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) experiences, it is a time of celebration and pride for many of us AAPI who live in spaces that can feel marginalized. A huge mahalo (thank you) to all of those who are part of Public Art Reston who have welcomed me with open arms this month. It is more than I could have ever asked, including all of the hands who work together to elevate community and public art here.
With that, I want to say aloha. 'Alo' means the presence of and 'ha' means breath or spirit. It is the truest essence of how we as Hawai'ians live. For now, we say goodbye (aloha) to one chapter and make room to welcome in the new (aloha) for this next chapter of Public Art Reston . . .