The Sit List: 3 Asian American poets talk art and anti-racism at Berkeley Public Library

Plus: View two sculpture shows, and understand your relationship with motherhood.

Credit: Oakland Asian Cultural Center

BAY AREA CERAMICS Clay is a malleable material with infinite possibilities. This weekend, Berkeley Art Center is closing out a gallery exhibition titled “Origin Stories: Expanded Ceramics in the Bay Area” that showcases the work of 10 artists and artist groups who consider ceramics in relation to site and place. Take a look at MamaSita’s Tiny Teahouse by Oakland-based artists Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik and María Inés Leal García, which is a participatory chai stall that the artists originally envisioned as a display serving masala chai and snacks to visitors. Make sure to swing by online or in person to also check out work by Ebitenyefa Baralaye, The Brick Factory, Ilana Crispi, Futurefarmers, Nicki Green, Dana Hemenway, Kari Marboe, Mutual Stores and Stephanie Syjuco. Until Saturday, May 8.

MOTHERLY LOVE Family is complicated, which can make holidays like Mother’s Day hard in more ways than one. The Oakland Asian Cultural Center is presenting a special Mother’s Day double feature of Susan Lieu’s comedy-dramas about grief, family dynamics, spirituality, beauty and Vietnamese culture. Over three days, the OACC will screen 140 Pounds and Over 140 Pounds while featuring special presentations and panels by community leaders and organizations. On Saturday, join Alica Forneret, creator of The Mourning Herald, and Holly Chan and Elizabeth Wong, co-creators of Death Over Dim Sum, for a talk titled, “Honor Her: Holding Remembrance and Grief with our own Mental Health.” This Mother’s Day, honor and heal. May 7-9. Check website for screening times and panels. Tickets start at $15.

AAPI POETICS What does it mean to curate an anti-racist Asian American poetics? For this event for Berkeley Public Library, three Asian American poets — Kazumi Chin, Muriel Leung, and Michelle Lin — will explore how artistic practices are intertwined with politics. In this reading and conversation led by MT Vallarta, you’ll understand how the work of these poets “reflects the contestation of racialized violence and the construction of futures beyond hierarchy and dominance,” according to BPL’s website. They will also discuss how the arts can move forward Asian American anti-racist work. Learn how to support AAPI artists and their anti-racist mission. Thursday, May 13, 3-4:30 p.m. Free.

THE BLUEST EYE For the Aurora Theatre, playwright Lydia R. Diamond has adapted Toni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye, into a lyrical memory play. Set in Morrison’s hometown of Lorain, Ohio, the play follows three Black girls who are trying to make sense of racism, abuse, love and sisterhood. The play centers Pecola Breedlove, a Black girl who is obsessed with Shirley Temple and desires to have blue eyes. “Diamond expertly translates to the stage the emotional depths of Black girlhood, the poisonous effects of racism, and the heartbreak of shame in Morrison’s work,” says the theater’s website. Watch this devastating play about the damaging effects of racism on Black communities. April 9-May 21. General admission is $25.


REAL AND IMAGINARY After a year of social distancing, we are glad to see more people out and about. In The Compound Gallery’s show Peopled: Works by Ben Belknap and Chris Donnelly, you’ll see artistic visions of real and imaginary people who interact within the gallery walls. Observe Donnelly’s whimsical figures of wood and ceramic, inspired by a combination of psychological fantasy and realism, and Belknap’s delicate ceramic sculptures, which depict miniature worlds inhabited by mysterious people. Jump into Peopled’s other world by viewing the gallery online or in person and checking out what’s for sale in their art shop. Until June 6. 

Featured file photo of Berkeley Public Library: Pete Rosos