A Voice in Art, Pandemic Edition: Red HongYi

As racism targeting Asians continues to rise due to COV-ID19, one artist, Red HongYi uses her art to create a powerful message and raise awareness.

Portrait of Jay Chou

Red HongYi is a Malaysian artist and former architect who is known for her unique art styles. An example of her creativity is her portrait of Jay Chou, a musician, that she painted using coffee cup stains. 

Now, during this time, HongYi fights racial tensions by creating two art series with the help of her friends, Wilson Ng and Alvin Chung, who are both artists as well. One of the series is, ‘I am not a virus,’ and the other is titled 'Seeds of Hope'. She uses these series to emphasize the time period we are in right now and acknowledge that we need to hold onto hope.

HongYi explains that the current events that prompted these series are both “worrying and sad”.

“I was chatting with friends in Australia and the States in March and they said something along the lines of, ‘We need to be careful. It’s tricky being an Asian now,” HongYi said, “That was when I started reading up articles about anti-Asian racism related to coronavirus.” It was then that she realized she used her artistic abilities to demonstrate how important it is to remember that Asians are not the virus.  

“I have an international following and thought I could use my platform to speak out against this.” HongYi says, “for Seeds of Hope, I just wanted to honour those who are fighting for us during this time, and also to encourage anyone who has stumbled upon my page by sharing stories of hope.”

In Seeds of Hope, HongYi uses her artistic ability to shape everyday food into delicate portraits while, of course, creating for a cause.

“Since we’re all staying home now, I thought about using objects I could find at home,” she said, “[matcha seed, goji berries, fennel seeds, etc.] are just some of the objects I’ve found.”

'Seeds of Hope' highlights Asian 10 heroes "who brought hope and inspiration during this time," as HongYi explains in an Instagram post.

Each of the pieces in HongYi's series 'I am not a Virus' features victims of racist attacks that were targeted because they are Asian.

I Am Not a Virus

“Asians have been punched in the face, spat on, yelled at, and turned away just based on their ethnicities. In my series, I highlight these stories — from a Singaporean student who was punched in the UK to a two year old Asian-American girl who was stabbed in Texas,” explains HongYi.

Ultimately, HongYi’s artwork has sparked a lot of discussion that brings a glimmer of hope.

“This series has made me want to focus on sharing stories of my heritage, background, and culture even more. These stories matter.”


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