Dave Young Kim, US Asian Pacific American Student Services, dedicated May 2, 2022.


Information from a brochure available at dedication:

"Passage"-The Making of a Mural.

Background: In honor of its 40th anniversary, USC Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS) commissioned an original mural by an accomplished Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) artist that would integrate and reflect the experiences and stories of USC AAPI students.


The artist: L. A. native Dave Young Kim, a prolific Korean American artist whose work "draws from cultural history, family stories and personal experiences in depcting images of identity," has always been fascinated with the ideas of "home" and belonging. Kim attended UC Davis before earning an MFA at Mills College.


His large-scale murals span from the Wesst Coast to Korea and his work, which often challenges stereotypes and explores identity in the aAPI community, earned him the Asian Pacific American Heritage Award in 2015.


A Collaborative Process: Over an eight-month period that began Fall 2021, Dave Young Kim worked with members of the USC AAPI community to develop the artwork. From the outset, USC student voices were paramount. Kim met with various AAPI students, staff and an APASS mural committee seeking the history, experiences and perspectives that would guide the direction of the piece. He also specifically collected personal stories of students as inspiration in the creative development process.


"There were many common themes - identity challenges, a desire to embrace home culture, being othered, the harms of the model minority myth, finding belonging, racism internally and externally..." Kim reflected. "All things that are very specific to Asian Americans but universal as well, and all which I could personally relate to as a child of immigrants who figured out his way into this very cityscape as a background."


"Passage": The mural, titled "Passage," depicts flowers native to various regions in Asia. A red and white circle motif floating in the far corners represents the sun and moon and the passage of time, Kim said.


Background imagery connected to place includes the San Gabriel Mountains. Waves represent the L. A. River and Pacific Ocean but also reference immigration and travel, with "the gradient of color in the waves denoting history, and passing on to the next generation," Kim explains.


The final piece, installed May 2022, extends 34 feet across the entrance of APASS - a grand-scale celebration of identity and welcome to all students who visit the Student Union cultural center.


Thank you to USC APASS, Asian Pacific American Student Assembly (APASA), Asian Pacific Islander Faculty & Staff Assembly (APFISA), Asian Pacific Alumni Association (APAA), and the students, staff and faculty on the APASS Mural Committee!


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