All posts filed under: featured stories

Lessons from the life and work of Iris Chang

Iris Chang’s life was many things to me. Even before I read her books, she was this wonderful figure among Asian-Americans. I remember seeing her face on the cover of Reader’s Digest in the Nineties and knowing and being proud of this rare instance of an Asian face being so prominent, and respected. I remember the excerpt of her book, “The Rape of Nanking,” in Newsweek and how much weight that carried. I also remember the feeling when news broke of her committing suicide in 2004, when she was just 36 years old: Horror. It felt like there was a dark void in what happened. What was it that drove her to suicide? That question has been probed many times in articles and books written by those close to her. This essay is not going to delve into that, but will be a reflection on the lessons that Chang’s life and work still carry for our time. Chang’s books and her experiences have been on my mind these past few years for many reasons. First, …

Creative Durham series: Swimming in imagination

The imaginary world of Daphne Yap is a head-spinning swirl of creatures, geniuses and goddesses. Yap, an artist in the Golden Belt campus, has filled her studio with portraits of fantastical creatures of dynamic movement and intense meaning, peppered with moments of complete goofiness. One creation that has combined the two are her many, many drawings of jellyfish. Why jellyfish? “Well, I got these Gelly Roll pens and what glows in the dark? Jellyfish!” the 34-year-old artist exclaimed. Although Yap’s work often hints at a dark imagination, in person, she is cheerful, almost exuberant, and punctuates her speech with animated expressions that are much like the characters she used to draw as a concept artist for Hollywood. Yap, born in the U.S. to Chinese and Malaysian parents, grew up in San Jose, Calif., and studied toy design before working in the world of science fiction and fantasy blockbuster movies as a concept artist. From 2006 to 2012, she drew characters, costumes and sets for movies such as “Avatar,” “Thor,” “Alice in Wonderland” and J.J. Abrams’ …

Anna Edwards jokes with her sister, Destinee, as she works on the pattern for a friend’s wedding dress.

Creative Durham: Stitching together her future

Introducing “Creative Durham,” a new feature profiling artists, artisans and intrepid hobbyists in the Triangle area, and beyond! Inspired by the creative spirit of the Aughts, rooted in the DIY culture of Durham, this feature is dedicated to the simple joy of doing, how we express ourselves and how the process of doing can even define and redefine who we are. I hope you will read and enjoy! – Monica Chen Hidden throughout Anna Edwards’ home in Durham are portraits she painted of her family, glassware she made, clothes and cards she has made. There are yards of delicate white lace, an old piano, and even a mannequin named Roxanne. Such is the home of someone who is interested in many forms of crafts and arts. Asked what she’s most interested in, and the words tumble out fast and with excitement, as if there are too many different pieces, all shining and soft and beautiful, that she’s anxious to stitch together. Edwards, 26, studied fashion at Meredith College. Since then, she has found her interests …

Impressions from Fall 2016

By Monica Chen It’s late fall now. The scent of Sweet Olive flowers is nearly gone. Flower blooms have mostly folded, and the golden light of the season is fading. Some falls are breathtakingly perfect. This fall, with its halting, bumpy rhythm, was not that. The leaves could not quite turn, their urge to change sputtered like a bad engine, clogged from too much rain at the wrong time, too much dreary cold, too much heat. It was 60 degrees followed by 80 degrees followed by who knows what. Like confused actors under an indecisive director, they stepped onto the stage, then stepped back, became annoyed and impatient, then stepped on again. Some of them walked off the production completely. Instead of leaves, the showy colors of this fall were filled by yellow asters. Bur Marigolds bloomed in new fields around my area, blankets and blankets of them wherever there was room. The pink flowers of Slenderleaf False Foxglove also appeared, though not as many as in years before. And there were also these humble, …

Winter to Spring

In the stillness of winter before the turning point comes you hope this would be the last time The last wrong, the last fight But the light darkens, then brightens again not waiting for you And you reach for it because you want to grow too Maybe this is how flowers live a tree, a grass Leave the safety and warmth of the soil reach toward the sky See this luminous world for the first time the freshness and sweetness of air the softness of rain Understand with shock the fear of thunder, hail, frost the hot days that never end Oh, just sigh like the moon, the stars like the neverending cascade of beauty that is day and night The whole of the world can be felt from the root of a single flower The turning point comes winding you around as easy as sliding around a corner as hard as growing a new skin I remember the stillness of winter the electric blue of the soil Then movement comes, and its radiance gives …