the female art collective subverting the silent asian stereotype

Sad Asian Girls Club is connecting Asian-American girls and destroying the myth of passivity.

by Blair Cannon
Mar 10 2016, 3:35pm

Between smoke break conversations, coffee runs, and parties, RISD graphic design students Olivia Park and Esther Fan realized that they were frustrated about the same racial and feminist issues in the Asian-American community. They filmed their first video together (a commentary on the pressures that immigrant parents put on their first-generation American daughters) in an attempt to give other Asian-American girls in similar situations something to relate to. The dialogue that ensued resulted in the creation of a new platform, the Sad Asian Girls Club, in hopes of giving a voice to a diverse group of girls who are all connected by the umbrella of Asian-American female issues. SAGC is the outspoken, unabashed Internet world of Asian girls with dyed hair, septum piercings, and passionate, angry art that your mom and grandma warned you about. 

Tell me about your movement and how it came about! What inspired this collective?
SAGC is an art collective aiming to make work for and about Asian-American girls. It started when we made our first project, "Have You Eaten?," a video depicting the relationship between Asian-American girls and their immigrant mothers. The name Sad Asian Girls Club came up when we needed to have a name for the YouTube account under which we released the video. When we realized the impact our first project had on our audience, we decided to take the "club" further and continue collaborating together to make Asian-American related work.

What type of projects do you guys work on?
So far, our work has taken various forms: video, posters, photo book, zine, stickers, and building a social media presence. We would say we are creating art, as we still work in the mindset of graphic designers. One of our projects was a series of posters consisting of statements beginning with "Asian Women Are Not___;" these were submitted to us online and the project allowed Asian women to speak out against Asian stereotypes. The posters were one up for one day. We also recently sold out our "PRESENCE: PRESENTS" zines, which were boxes containing a variety of Asian-related collectibles. Our next project is likely another video featuring our own apparel, and as an ongoing project, we are also working on a photo book. We hope to continue making a wide variety of work so that we may engage our audience in several different ways. 

What makes you feel that there is a need for a Sad Asian Girls Club? What is lacking in our culture that your movement could help with?
Asian-Americans often remain silent or passive during discussions of feminism or racism; this has a lot to do with the culture of our immigrant parents that many of us were brought up in. Asians prefer to keep to themselves, to not concern themselves with conflicts they don't believe will affect them; however, sexism and racism in America does in fact affect us. Asian girls often must internalize any objections they have to their environment. SAGC aims to allow them to express these thoughts and bring them into conversation. On top of this, Asian women are not well represented in the media. We want to provide representation for Asian girls of all types and backgrounds, and this is what our photo book project is gearing towards. We deny the model minority myth and instead wish to celebrate Asian girls as we are.

What does it mean to be a Sad Asian Girl? How do your ideas play on/fight against stereotypes?
The meaning of the name has been evolving as the collective has been growing. However, one can say a Sad Asian Girl is one who is frustrated and tired of stereotypes and expectations forced upon us by both Western society and our own Asian society as well as by our own families. A Sad Asian Girl feels the need to continue the conversation and fight against institutionalized and societal oppression. We are all struggling to define our identities and it is especially difficult if we do not fit into particular molds, within both Western and Asian society. The club is a space for Sad Asian Girls to get together and talk about issues we face specifically, as well as provide a voice for Asian girls.

As an Asian American girl, how could I get involved?
Share our work with your friends or social media, buy some stickers to put around your city, tell us ideas or subjects you think we can and should use in our future work. If you are an artist, writer, or designer, show us your work if you'd like us to feature it. We are always open to collaborating with other creators and creatives working with similar subjects


Text by Blair Cannon
Still via "Have You Eaten?"

esther fan
olivia park
sad asian girls club