Hawaii artist paints mural of Patsy Mink in Portland

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — In the midst of racial discrimination across the United States, there is still color, light and inspiration.  In a new housing complex in southeast Portland, a mural featuring Hawaii’s own pioneer — Patsy Mink — has popped up to showcase the message of love and solidarity.

Hawaii-born artist Anisa Asakawa was selected to create artwork of leaders who fostered a sense of belonging. Her decision landed on Patsy Mink, a champion for women’s equality.

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Patsy Mink was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Asian-American woman to serve in Congress.

“I’m an Asian-American woman,” said Asakawa. “I’m a daughter of an immigrant.  My mothers from Malaysia, and it was very important to highlight someone that I connected with, and Patsy Mink has done so much for the community through her work and did so much for social justice that I wanted to highlight her story.”

Growing up in the islands as a mixed-race woman, Asakawa said she felt accepted. However, when she moved to Malaysia at 10 years old, she said she started to experience discrimination firsthand.  

“All of a sudden, I was extremely white or American compared to everyone else,” Asakawa explained. “The school system was actually segregated between students who spoke English and only English and students who spoke the native language.  And then a few years later, I moved to central Wisconsin where I was the most Asian.”

Recently, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Stop Asian Hate’ movements exposed the racism that continues to exist in America, as well as the need to make space for everyone.  

To Asakawa, visual art serves as a means to break down those prejudice barriers. 

“For the Asian community, people of color, I hope that they feel a sense of belonging, truly, that they see someone who looks like them, looks like their mother, looks like their grandmother, looks like their sister, their aunt,.”

Hawaii-born artist Anisa Asakawa

“What I really liked about the image of her looking off the page is that she’s kind of looking towards the future.  She not looking directly at you, she’s not looking to the past, but she is looking towards the future,” Asakawa added.

The project was part of the non-profit Color Outside the Lines and is titled: “Belonging.”  

Asakawa’s Pasty Mink mural stands next to paintings of Cesar Chavez, Ron Kovic and Shirley Chisholm. 

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To find out more about Anisa Asakawa and her work, click here.

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