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Yen Azzaro: ALTAR|ALTER Opens at Graduate Ann Arbor

white and red rectangles with text over it

Stamps alumnus, former Lecturer, and Ypsilanti artist Yen Azzaro (BFA 03) is the Summer 2022 artist-in-resident with The Graduate Hotels Sweet Dreams Society. Yen Azzaro will launch her experiential art piece Altar|Alter on Thursday, September 8th from 6 – 8 pm at Graduate Hotel Ann Arbor, 615 E Huron Street in the 3rd floor ballroom. The Sweet Dreams Society residency is supported by Grammy-award winning producer DJ White Shadow.

Altar|Alter highlights just a few of the crimes and atrocities committed against Asian-American Pacific Islanders since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020. The ornate altar, modeled after the childhood Buddist altar her parents had in the home growing up, offers the ritual of walking a path and praying tribute” to those that succumbed to or been highly affected by violence against them, while being witnessed by viewers. Objects on the altar signify the things that the victims last had in their hands or were the weapons used to hurt them while a scroll painting of the victims looms overhead.

The altar will also be diagrammed on Azzaro’s website at yenaz​zaro​.com under Altar|Alter” with photos of the event on September 8th available the next day. 

This residency, the space and the support of the team at Graduate Ann Arbor has given me the luxury and safety of expounding upon complicated feelings about anti-Asian hate crimes I hadn’t been ready to reconcile over the last few years. Much of the work I create is about enticing viewers with beauty but imparting knowledge and understanding. I hope the discomfort of having people pay homage to those they don’t know will spring some empathy for the Asian-American community that is suffering psychologically right now. I fear that the lasting pandemic for people that look like me is violence,” says Azzaro.

Yen Azzaro is an artist, illustrator and graphic recorder, which is the practice of drawing what people say in real time. To learn more about the piece, please visit yenaz​zaro​.com.