Earlier this year, WSJ. Magazine (of The Wall Street Journal) published a fashion spread featuring Juilliard students. At first, I appreciated the Magazine’s effort to photograph students from all departments and provide a window into student diversity. At a time when I was hearing about the devastating consequences of other-ing—from microagressions to shootings and police brutality—I thought it was brilliant to present a diverse group of artists in a positive way.
However, when I reached the end of the photos, my head started to spin. I realized there were no Asian or Asian-American students in the photos. The omission has been explored by Scout James in an article in The Citizen-Penguin, for which I was interviewed. Talking to Scout helped me process my reaction, but my confusion persisted.
Essay continues after gallery
In California, I did not often feel like an “other” as a first-generation American born to Taiwanese immigrants. At Juilliard, I also do not feel like an “other.” This privilege of being an Asian American can be double-edged, and I am still trying to ask myself the right questions about this—questions of race and privilege. Why were there no Asians depicted in the feature? Are there generally fewer Asians presented in media? Should I be vocal about this? Have I been vocal about other instances of underrepresentation, whether or not I was part of that underrepresentation?
Uncertain of my own thoughts, I met with Dean Cory Owen, Assistant Dean of International Advisement and Diversity Initiatives. She had reached out to me after Scout’s piece ran, asking if there was anything she or any Juilliard staff could do to help. It was at our meeting that the idea of organizing a photoshoot became tangible. After the student photographers she recommended agreed to participate, we were ready to organize our own photoshoot. An open call was sent out in an email to all students, who could sign up for the photoshoot if they felt they were not represented in the WSJ. Magazine feature.
As you can see from these photos, many responded. Weeks of planning and a 7-hour shoot day resulted in hundreds of photos to pick from. Everyone who was photographed is featured here. Dancer Taylor Massa appears again, this time self-styled. My hope is that these photos add to the conversation the Magazine’s feature provoked.
(Special thanks to photographers Samantha Hankey (Vocal Arts), Michelle Lim (Dance), Jieming Tang (Music) and Matthew Quigley (Dance). Thanks to Dean Cory Owen for her help and support during the photoshoot sessions. Thanks to Gloria Gottschalk for granting us permission to photograph on campus. A huge shoutout to Citizen-Penguin editor Scout James for the generous encouragement and providing a platform for our voices and faces to be represented.)
From Westlake Village, California
“What keeps me coming back to music is its ability to affect people in a powerful way. I think creating a sonic space for people to experience their emotion is something people in this world will never stop needing.”
From Pembroke Pines, Florida
“I’m an artist because I constantly look for meaning in the world around me and there is no other way to say the things I want to say. When you’re on stage, the stage is yours, the space is yours, the time is yours to do as you please. In the most high-pressure and vulnerable of situations lies the potential to reach, beyond the normal or everyday, the essence of who we are. It might be just one in a hundred performances, or just a handful in your lifetime, but it’s ‘that moment’ of connection that motivates me to keep pushing myself to my limits.”
From Bloomington, Indiana
“I am proud to be a Juilliard student. I am honored to be part of a community of human beings who not only strive for excellence, but who strive to use that excellence to do wonderful things in the world. At Juilliard, art is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. This is why we work hard every day as a community: to do good in the world.”
From Miami, Florida
“I want the world to know the importance of dance, and how crucial the presence of the arts is in today’s political climate. As a young dancer, choreographer, and leader, I am eager to advocate for the arts with intelligence, strength, and wisdom.”
Jane H Kim
From Berkeley, California
“As much as music is in many ways a historic art form, where we the core of our art is music written centuries ago and have been performed countless times over the years, it is still a living, breathing art as well. Yes, there are the iconic performances of Beethoven 9 or a Brahms Symphony, but every generation has a new voice to add even to well-established repertoire, and Juilliard is at the forefront of defining the music of the past for our generation today, both for performers as well as audiences.”
“I find it incredible how life lessons are stored in our anatomy and revealed and understood through dance. It is my privilege to have the ability to access that knowledge through my practice.”
From White Plains, New York
“Dance is an extremely under-appreciated and under-acknowledged art form, within the art world as well as in the outside world. I want the world, as well as other artists to know, that dance is valid and important. Dancers are serious athletic artists who make art with nothing but their own bodies – and that deserves more respect and appreciation across the board.”
From Caracas, Venezuela
“To play an instrument is to continuously challenge yourself to rise above your nerve, and to believe that once you’ve achieved all that was possible the unimaginable can become tangible.”
From Shanghai, China
“The stage of Juilliard is priceless, honorable and holy; on this stage, I am growing, exploring and experiencing. After the process, I am given the valuable opportunity to use this stage as an precious treasure to bring love and beauty to the world, and make the world even better!”
From Baltimore, Maryland
“Look at the clothes you’re wearing, at the architecture of the building you’re in. Art is everywhere you look, in some form or another. Art is innate and inevitable, so I am an artist because I chose to live. As a part of the Juilliard community I have a great responsibility to live my art and allow my art to live in me in as many moments and facets as I can find.”
Katelan Tran Terrell
From Fort Worth, Texas
“Art is what makes us human! No amount of economic success in a society can give us the humanity that art brings to us. Science saves lives, but art makes life worth saving.”
Regina De Vera
From Quezon City, Philippines
“My favorite part about acting is being able to live in new ways under the context of a written narrative, under the given circumstances of another human being and the unconscious freedom that results from a lot of conscious work.”
Mariko Hiraga Wyrick
From Mill Valley, California
“I do what I do because I am able to help people. The idea that I can temporarily relieve someone of their daily worries and take them somewhere else free of distress is a unique power that is quite remarkable. The cello is a vessel through which I can tell my story to an audience. It is my way of the purest expression that I have to offer and I am so fortunate to be able to do what I do.”
From Beijing, China
“Just as painters draw their pictures on the canvas, we present our world in the silence. Music is the universal language. We can understand it without words.”