May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to recognize the experiences and contributions of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. At Room & Board, we value diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of our business.
Throughout May, our staff member communication channels are sharing stories from AAPI staff members to educate and foster connections. In addition, Room & Board is a long-time contributor to the ACLU and has donated to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which works to advance the human and civil rights of Asian Americans and build an equitable society for all.
Diversifying Our Partnerships
We are continuing to expand our vendor partnerships to include more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) makers. Through our Inclusive Makers effort, Room & Board staff members provide us with suggestions of artisans and makers from underrepresented groups or makers to partner with. Through this initiative, we were introduced to artist Suyao Tian and are proud to now offer signed and numbered, limited edition prints of her paintings. Her original pieces add playfulness and natural beauty to any room.
“Art is for everybody.”
Suyao grew up in northwest China in a family of educators. She didn’t have siblings and couldn’t have pets so, to entertain herself, Suyao spent a lot of time outside. She often caught bugs and considered them companions, speaking to them and playing with them. “Now I still often talk to these creatures,” shares Suyao. “But instead of putting them in a jar, I put them into my creations. It feels like my inner friends coming out to play with me.”
Art was not Suyao’s first career. She earned her degree in music education and was an assistant professor of music in China, then moved to the United States to pursue her master’s degree in music. However, art was always in the back of her mind, inspired by her beloved aunt who was a watercolor artist. Suyao changed tracks and became an art major, attaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Design degree. In addition, she is the founder of fashion brand Modern Cover™.
Suyao works in watercolors for her expressive paintings, refining pieces with other media such as colored pencils and ink. These details create a push and pull of micro and macro views. Her art intentionally straddles the line between realism and the abstract.
Despite her formal training, Suyao is adamant that art is for everyone. “”My work creates a peaceful and safe space that invites all people’s mind to wander and explore but is not overtly symbolic object to suggest the direction,” she says. “This introspection is critical to society because no one is capable off a full peace and love for others without first understanding themselves, and it is my hope that my works provide such a peace to all who see it.”
Images by Room & Board