Rising Voices Amplify Centers the Stories of Metro Detroit’s Asian American Communities

Artist and photographer Jarod Lew has been working with Rising Voices to gather stories and capture photos of Asian American community organizers for an exhibition to conclude the series later in the year.

With the approach of the Aug. 3 primary election, nonprofit Rising Voices seeks to empower metro Detroit’s Asian American community through voter outreach and education. To amplify their mission, the organization teamed up with artist and photographer Jarod Lew to create a historical record of the region’s Asian American communities. The current collaboration is a continuation of their Rising Voices Amplify project, which profiled leaders and residents across the state dedicated to organizing and uplifting the voices of Asian American women and communities. 

Through imagery, audio stories and videos, the multimedia venture is intentional on documenting Asian American leaders in community and politics throughout Michigan. 

Jarod Lew, courtesy of Rising Voices
Jarod Lew, courtesy of Rising Voices

“It’s interesting, here in Michigan. We have a very unique Asian American history and community versus others,” says Jasmine Rivera, digital communications organizer of Rising Voices. “So going to the various organizational leaders who are part of the community centers and who have been involved in activism and uplifting their own communities, that’s something we wanted to amplify and celebrate.” 

Lew’s photography examines the Asian American experience in metro Detroit through the lens of community, identity and displacement. While his subject matter gained attention from the art community, collaborating with Rising Voices welcomed a mental shift to also center his intentions on giving back to Detroit in a powerful way that lifts up voices. 

“It has to be done,” he says. “As I’m photographing and collecting these images and stories, I think it’s a necessity since we’re so dispersed. As more generations of Asian Americans are living in Michigan, there has to be a resource of information to showcase where we’re at. I think the common conversation here in Michigan is, ‘Where are we?’”

With Rising Voices, the goal is to show just that — the thriving and presence of Asian Americans throughout Michigan. 

Learn more about the project here

Listen: Jasmine Rivera and Jarod Lew talk about the importance of uplifting Asian American communities through art.

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