Christina Yuna Lee, Art Worker Murdered in New York, Remembered at Eli Klein Gallery
Half of sales from the gallery's memorial exhibition will go towards a fund that has already raised over $400,000 for causes Lee loved.
Haena Yoo, I've gone to look for America (Revolver) (2021). Rice paper dyed in soy sauce. 13 x 7 x 1 1/4 inches (33 x 18 x 3 cm). Courtesy of the artist, Murmurs Gallery and Eli Klein Gallery. © Haena Yoo.
Eli Klein Gallery will stage a group exhibition to remember Christina Yuna Lee, who worked at the New York gallery from 2010 to 2014. Lee was murdered in her apartment on 13 February 2022.
The exhibition, entitled with her voice, penetrate earth's floor, opens 5–8pm on Wednesday 13 April, and continues through 5 June. It features works by nine Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) artists.
'Christina loved art, it was a huge part of her life, and she was a huge part of my life,' Eli Klein told Ocula Magazine.
'I can't think of a better way to honour her than this exhibition, which hopefully will also bring awareness and change to the tragic circumstances that led to her murdered, and help Stop Asian Hate.'
New York authorities haven't determined that Christina's murder was ethnically motivated, but the exhibition's curator stephanie mei huang—who stylises their name in lower case—situated it in a wave of violence against the AAPI community. According to the New York Police Department, hate crimes against Asians rose from 28 in 2020 to 129 in 2021.
'Nearly two-thirds of AAPI hate-crime victims are women, yet the AAPI community is the least likely to report a hate crime,' huang said. 'Christina's death was far from an isolated incident in Manhattan.'
Works in the exhibition address themes including racism, violence, and grief.
Thai-American artist Astria Suparak's three-channel video For Ornamental Purposes (2022) zooms in on the holographic koi fish sometimes used in Western sci-fi to signify a more global future.
'Suparak shifts the agency of the koi, and thereby, the Asian body and narrative,' huang said. 'Rather than envisioning Asian futures, without Asians, how might Asian-futurisms be envisioned?'
Works addressing violence include origami guns from Haena Yoo's series 'I've gone to look for America' (pictured top). The guns feature newspaper headlines about the Atlanta Spa shooting in March 2021, in which six Asian women were killed.
On the subject of grief, Kelly Akashi's August 4-6 (2020) is a bronze sculpture the Los Angeles-based artist cast from the remnants of a paraffin candle burnt in memory of the Beirut blasts.
'Each candle has absorbed each tragedy, imprinting bronze with the remnants of sorrow,' Huang said. 'Akashi's work reflects that the objects in the show are objects that mourn, but they do not reside in mourning; they mourn so that we can live alongside mourning.'
The other artists featured in the show are Candice Lin, Patty Chang, Hồng-Ân Trương, Maia Ruth Lee, stephanie mei huang, and Christina Yuna Lee herself. Lee's work is a painting of Chinese Golden Bridge brand cigarettes that she gifted to Klein.
'It was important to me that the space had an altar, full of offerings to Christina—that it would transmute the gallery into a safe space for AAPI femmes to grieve within the city, and return to grieve over two months, with someone attending the space,' huang said.
'It made sense for Christina's painting of Chinese cigarettes to sit atop the altar. Cigarettes are given as an offering and gift in China—to strangers, at weddings, to the dead—as a sign of respect.'
At least half of sales from the exhibition with her voice, penetrate earth's floor at Eli Klein Gallery will go to the Christina Yuna Lee Memorial Fund. —[O]