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  • Writer's pictureHarleen Kaur

ARTventure Down the Mekong, Chopsticks Alley Art’s First Art Book

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

The wait is over! Chopsticks Alley Art’s first ever book project, ARTventure Down the Mekong, is releasing today on Labor Day!

ARTventure Down the Mekong is a collection of eight Southeast Asian art projects written by author Trami Nguyen Cron and curated and developed by Chopsticks Alley Artists Dr. Smita Garg, Cynthia Cao, and Amanda Pascual. These art lessons draw on the culture and history of the Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River Delta. The countries include Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

This book came to life entirely during the pandemic--which I would say is an amazing feat. The project originated as a brochure accompanied by 500 free art kits that would be donated to Vietnamese seniors, funded by Asian Googlers Network. Chopsticks Alley understood the pandemic’s heavy impact on our elders, who have been the most isolated as the highest-risk population for COVID-19.

The art lessons in the book call for low cost, easy to get art supplies, and common household items. This way it eliminates the need to leave one’s house and spend money on fancy art supplies. Although the book was made with the senior demographic in mind, the lessons were developed to be easily modified to suit anyone from eight to 80 years old. The book also includes a full Vietnamese translation after each history and art lesson.

The best part about the artists and staff who were selected to work on the book included interns (like me!). It presents a great opportunity for us to not only work on a unique project, but also to be published!

I was amazed at how we could put together a legitimate book virtually, all through a computer screen, while sheltering in place at home. It took numerous meetings to finalize the projects, test out the art projects, research and write up the history, copyedit the manuscript in English, and again in Vietnamese. The book also features illustrations that were hand-drawn by my wonderful fellow co-intern Ashley Hin, who is a full-time college student who was able to balance illustrating an entire book, juggling college, and moving all at the same time.

The team at Chopsticks Alley poured our hearts and souls into this book whilst being stuck at home, so get a copy of ARTventure Down the Mekong which now available on Amazon!

If you like stories like this, subscribe to Chopsticks Alley.

Harleen Kaur

Chopsticks Alley Editorial Intern

Harleen is a freshman at Foothill College pursuing her B.A. in philosophy. She ran her high school’s newspaper PHHS The Legend as a managing editor, and was later inducted into the Quill and Scroll Honor Society as a lifetime member. Growing up in San Jose, Harleen hopes to write about and amplify the voices of the Vietnamese and Pinoy community that she is surrounded by. She hopes to become a lawyer who will give back to her community.

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