Weaving Stories: Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Weaving Stories: Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This May, prepare to be dazzled by Weaving Stories, SFPL’s celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In music, dance, film and the written word, many narratives unfold for you to enjoy through both virtual and in-person programs.

Kids can dig into a vast array of energetic, creative programs, including Pacific Islander visual art, Japanese taiko drum performance and open-air, in-person performances of Polynesian dance and hula. If you want to get on the floor yourself, a K-Pop virtual workshop is guaranteed to give you a great time (and a workout too!).

Our adult program lineup brims over with offerings. A floral workshop with Diosa Blooms and series of virtual tours with the Asian Art Museum help bring beauty to you. Film screenings are popping up at Library branches and the Main—check your local calendar. And come to the Koret Auditorium in the Main Library to hear Bay Area Asian American grassroots organizers and scholar-activists discuss their book Contemporary Asian American Activism: Building Movements for Liberation.

Lastly, the Library is thrilled to host notable authors both on its virtual and in-person stages. See social media phenoms Andria Lo and Valerie Luu dish about Chinatown Pretty, their chronicle of the street-style of senior citizens across six North American Chinatowns. Start reading and save the date for Malinda Lo, author of bestselling, National Book Award-winning YA crossover novel Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Her author program and our On the Same Page book club will be held virtually in June.

AANHPI Heritage Month Takes Bloom with Local Artist Mel Vera Cruz

 Mel Vera Cruz painting: bouquet of flowersIn honor of AANHPI Heritage Month, local artist Mel Vera Cruz worked in partnership with the Library to produce a stunning piece. This painting, featuring a bouquet of flowers that have symbolic ties to AANHPI cultures including chrysanthemums, cherry blossoms and others, symbolizes rejuvenation, resilience and vitality. Created with stencils, acrylic paint and spray paint on fiber glass, the art will be exhibited for you to view in person all throughout the month of May on the 3rd Floor of the Main Library.


Who or what inspired you to become an artist?

I never stopped drawing since I was 5 years old, but I was so amazed by my older brother when he sketched the front side of our Volkswagen Beetle. My jaw dropped at the likeness that I felt I must
do the same.

What tools did you use to create your AANHPI art?

I created the stencils first using images from Google as reference. I used Photoshop and Illustrator to layout the images then projected and printed the images on used cardboards to make the stencils. I spray painted and used a stencil brush to transfer/compose the images on the fiber glass protector of an old picture frame that my wife found somewhere.

How have libraries played a role in your life?

I wasn’t a reader, and we didn’t have libraries where I grew up, so it did not influence me at first. I didn’t realize because I’m a visual person. I did not excel academically so I don’t use my intellect that much. I wanted it direct from my gut without any translations, but my brother kept on telling me the importance of reading. My wife works as a Library Page after she came here so I read books that matter to me and even showed my art in the branch where she works.

How do you weave stories in your art?

My initial goal [as an artist] was to impress, but I realized that’s all empty. It did not satisfy me until I realized who I am. It was a revelation the moment I knew myself because my experience growing up are full of wild and mild stories. I know identity can change, so my experiences are very important to tell the stories through art making. It is a non-violent protest because I can express anything without hurting anyone physically.

About the artist

Mel Vera Cruz

Mel Vera Cruz is a multimedia artist. He migrated to the US from the Philippines in 1995 and is based in the Bay Area. With a background in graphic design and advertising, he incorporates painting and screen printing techniques along with use of readily available materials. His work has been shown in solo and group shows throughout the Bay Area as well as Manila.