New American Festival
I had the privilege of creating some illustrations for The New American Economy. The New American Economy or NAE is a bipartisan research organization that advocates for federal, state, and local immigration policies that help build up the economy as well as create jobs for all Americans. As the NAE’s website explains:
We use powerful research to demonstrate how immigration impacts our economy.
We organize champions at the grassroots and influencer levels to build support for immigration.
We partner with state and local leaders to advocate for policies that recognize the value immigrants add locally.
We show immigrant contributions to American culture through film, food, art, sports, comedy, and more.
You can learn more on their website here.
This month the NAE is holding a touring festival, The New American Festival starting in New York City on September 14-15. It is the first-ever celebration of immigrants’ contribution to the economy, specifically in the arts. The events of the weekend will be headlined by a lineup of immigrant artists, chefs, musicians, authors and more. I’m pretty stoked that Hasan Minhaj, yes, the Hasan Minhaj of The Patriot Act, will be there (not that I’m going. . .but my work will be there, and my work being in the same room as Hasan is kinda like me, physically, being in the same room as Hasan…right?!?!). Anyway, enough of me gushing over Hasan. Check out the schedule and buy tickets to the festival here!
In preparation for the festival, the NAE hired four US-based immigrant artists to create designs inspired by their city of residence and country of origin. My design is inspired by Filipino tribal tattoos. My Inay is from Visayas so I emphasized Visayan tribal prints in my design. I imitated the heavy bold design of the tattoos in my design, keeping everything solid and with little line variation, which is unlike what you would typically find in my work. Researching tribal tattoos had me wanting to get tattooed by Whang-Od! Oh jokes, I may have willingly given birth naturally twice, but I would probably die of pain getting vigorously tapped with a hammer made of bamboo and a thorn.
Anyway, let’s break down the symbols of the Philippines and of Springfield:
The triangular borders are tribal tattoos used around the mouth of warriors to imitate the look of a crocodile.
The Arabian Jasmine is the national flower of the Philippines.
The eight rays of the sun represents the first eight provinces that rebelled against Spain.
The three stars represent the three main island groups, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Circles represent the sun in tribal tattoos and the sun is a symbol of power.
Corn because it’s Illinois and there’s corn everywhere!
Silhouettes of President Barack Obama and President Abraham Lincoln, whom I decided to be haloed by Visayan symbols of the sun to represent the power and influence they had.
Two lynching trees that represent the two black men who were murdered during the Springfield race riots in 1908.
The water coming off of the lynching trees has a dual meaning. First it represents the weeping and healing of the city, and most especially its Black residents, as a consequence of the race riots, and is a nod to a proposed memorial of the race riots here in Springfield. You can learn more about it here. Secondly, I designed the water to have four waves to symbolize the four “waves” of immigrants who influence the Philippines culture: Afro-Asiatics, Malay-Polynesian, Deuteron-Malays and finally, the Spanish.
Lastly, there are four historic buildings: The Capitol building, Lincoln’s home, the Dana Thomas house which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Old State Capitol where former President Obama announced his candidacy for president back in 2007.
Unfortunately, this design was not chosen for the festival’s tote bag design, but I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to create it. Aside from the individual symbols, the creation of this design symbolizes my ongoing journey of discovering how I as a Filipina-American find my place in this country. Below are the designs for the buttons which will be available on September 14 online in the New American Festival’s shop. All proceeds will go back to the New American Economy.
The New American Festival Logo provided by The New American Economy.