If walls could speak, the room of McElroy 237 would tell a vibrant story of paint, mouth-watering food, and cheery faces following a Thursday night event. ASiAM, a new literary magazine that uplifts Asian and Asian American students’ work, hosted its first event during the 24th Annual Boston College Arts Festival.
Celebrating the return of the magazine after two years of inactivity, co-leaders Serena Meyers, MCAS ’23, and Vivian Chuang, LSEHD ’23, hosted a block printing event, which included creating a personalized stamp and pressing it onto a piece of material. It was open to all who dared to put their artistic skills to the test.
Attendees stood around tables scattered throughout the space and had the option to stamp a tote bag, a journal, or both. The students bonded over the shared trials and errors of learning how to block print as they personalized their unique creations.
The attendees sketched drawings ranging from dainty flowers to eye-catching hearts onto eraser-like blocks. Then they precisely carved the malleable blocks into stamps and lathered them with paint. The completed products were finally revealed after the attendees thoughtfully pressed their designs onto the bags or journals.
While the air was filled with relaxing lo-fi music, the participants enjoyed the charming imperfections of their pieces. Many said that faded paint and crooked lines added to the charm of their totes, inspiring what many participants called a “vintage twist.”
Following the hands-on activity, Meyers gave a short presentation introducing ASiAM’s renewed mission and encouraged all participants to get involved.
Chuang explained that she and Meyers revived ASiAM with hopes to expand the artistic opportunities for the Asian American community on campus. Before Chuang and Meyers’ leadership, ASiAM was strictly a literary magazine, and now it is expanding to feature more student art, including drawings and paintings.
Chuang said that she and Meyers also wanted the publication to expand the topics explored in the publication. The literary magazine no longer requires that submitted work address identity.
“In the past, ASiAM required that the literary pieces be Asian American identity–focused, but we thought that could be too narrow since not everyone wants to express solely their Asian American identity through their artwork,” Chuang said. “So we wanted to uplift artists beyond their identity and more like an appreciation for art and the different side of everyone.”
Chuang said that she and Meyers decided to use block printing at the event to reflect ASiAM’s expansion to more diverse avenues of visual arts.
“We did block printing on journals because we wanted journals as a beginning for people to explore their own journeys with art,” Chuang said.
Chuang said that her goal for the publication’s relaunch is to help support the day-to-day presence of art on campus.
“I feel like BC in general doesn’t have a strong voice for artists,” Chuang said. “It’s nice to have events like Arts Festival, and I know we have [the] McMullen [Museum], but I wish the artistic expression expanded beyond these spaces and events.”
The magazine’s executive board plans to publish ASiAM’s new issue featuring visual art and literature next semester and build off its goal of inclusion in the months to come, according to Chuang.
“We all came together because we have this passion for art, and with ASiAM, we could celebrate our similarities and differences under the umbrella of art,” Chuang said. “We’re also trying to uplift Asian and Asian American voices, but people of all ethnicities were welcome to attend.”