Aram Han Sifuentes headshot

Aram Han Sifuentes

Fiber Artist
2021 Next Level / Spare Room Awards /  2016 3Arts Awards
Visual Arts

Aram Han Sifuentes (she/they) is a fiber and social practice artist, writer, and educator who works to claim spaces for immigrant and disenfranchised communities. Her work often revolves around skill sharing, specifically sewing techniques, to create multiethnic and intergenerational sewing circles, which become a place for empowerment, subversion, and protest.

 

Han Sifuentes earned her B.A. in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been a recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, Map Fund, Asian Cultural Council’s Individual Fellowship, and 3Arts Award. Her project Protest Banner Lending Library was a finalist for the Beazley Design Awards at the Design Museum in London in 2016.

 

Solo exhibitions of her work have been shown at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Chicago Cultural Center, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and Hyde Park Art Center. Her upcoming solo exhibitions include Talking Back to Power: Projects by Aram Han Sifuentes (2022) at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and Messages to Authorities (2022) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, where she is currently the inaugural Getting to Know Artist in Residence. Han Sifuentes has facilitated workshops for her projects internationally including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Museum of Fine Arts. Han Sifuentes’s artworks are included in various public collections including the Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, Herbert Johnson Museum of Art, DePaul Art Museum, and Wing Luke Museum of Asian Pacific American Experience. Recent commissions include a public art project for Mural Arts Philadelphia premiering in fall 2021.

 

She lectures and presents artist talks to international audiences. She also publishes writings and texts including “How Internalized White Supremacy Manifest for My BIPOC Students in Art School,” for the summer issue of Art Journal (2021), and the chapter “A Mother’s Work: A Mother/Daughter/Seamstress/Fiber Artist’s Merging Practice and Politics,” in Maternal in Creative Work: Intergenerational Discussions on Motherhood and Art edited Elena Marcevska and Velerie Walkerdine (2019). Her monograph, We Are Never Never Other, will be published in 2021 by University Galleries at Illinois State University. She was the 2020-2021 Artist-in-Residence at Loyola University, Chicago, and is currently an Associate Professor, Adjunct at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Profile caption: Photo: Virginia Harold

Featured Artworks

  •  A large outdoor banner that has a background of blue skies and clouds with colorful text that says WE ARE NEVER NEVER OTHER. This is mounted on the side of a large concrete building. We Are Never Never Other 2018, PVC Coated Vinyl, 137 1/3 × 264 inches (348.7 × 670.6 cm) Photo: Alise O'Brien

    Installed in the summer of 2018 on the façade of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis.

  •  Fabric protest banners hanging from the ceiling Protest Banner Lending Library 2016 - Present. Photo: eedahahm

    Protest Banner Lending Library is a workspace to make protest banners and a lending library of protest banners for people to check out, use, and return. Installation view at Chicago Cultural Center.

  •  Fabric protest banners hang from the ceiling. Under them sits two people, sitting and sewing them. Protest Banner Lending Library 2016 - Present. Photo: eedahahm

    Protest Banner Lending Library is a workspace to make protest banners and a lending library of protest banners for people to check out, use, and return. Installation view at Chicago Cultural Center.

  •  A grid of 8.5 x 11 inch pieces of beige fabric. They each have questions of the citizenship test embroidered onto them with decorations. U.S. Citizenship Test Samplers (Made by non-citizens who live and work in the U.S.) Cotton thread, sequins, beads, photo transfers, patches, felt, and yarn on linen. 8.5 x 11 inches each. Installation view at University Galleries of Illinois State University, Normal, 2019. Photo: Jessica Bingham

    Currently there are over 120 samplers each made by a non-citizen. Each of these are on sale for the cost of applying for citizenship - $725. If sold, the full amount goes to the maker of the sampler.

  •  An embroidered of fabric with question that asks: What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen? Answer: Give up loyalty to other countries. The background has a quilted figure of a girl in pink with a blue face. U.S. Citizenship Test Sampler #53 by Karina, 2014, cotton fabric and embroidery floss on linen, 11 x 8.5 inches. Photo: Jayson Cheung

    Many of these are made in workshops at non-profit organizations, community centers, and schools all over the U.S. where communities of non-citizen immigrants come together to learn the citizenship test material through the act of sewing. The sampler workshops organically become grassroots round table discussions addressing immigrant rights, labor politics, and everyday concerns of intergenerational and multiethnic people.

  •  There is an outdoor shed with an opening that someone is walking into. There is an American flag inside and a sign on the outside that says VOTE HERE. Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can't Official Unofficial Voting Station: Vote Here by collaborator Brandon Bullard, at Heidelberg Project in Detroit, 2016. Photo: Brandon Bullard

    For OUVS 2016, I collaborated with over 15 artists, organizations, activists, and students to create more than 25 different voting stations for the disenfranchised all over the United States and in Mexico. Some were sculptural public installations, others were performative guerilla actions, and some were used as pedagogical tools to engage students to create their own voting stations open to all.

  •  Objects collaged onto a pink background. Objects include a ballots box, wristbands, stickers, and a banner in the middle that says Let Us Vote! Voting Kits for the Disenfranchised 2020, 50 collective kits of objects made by myself and other Chicago-based artists for anyone to request to create their own voting station. Photo: Thaib Wahab

    All 50 were sent out internationally to create over 60 voting stations. Kits included: OUVS candidate and issues ballots, ballot box, Voting for All Sticker Sheets and Who Can’t Legally Vote? infographic posters by Cute Rage Press, If We Could Vote, We Would! Wristbands by Undocumented Projects, Party as Protest U.S.B. or vinyl record compilation by D.J. Sadie Woods, Actions to Expand Voting Rights flyers by Erin Delaney and Aram Han Sifuentes, Vote for our Futures screen print posters by William Estrada, and Let Us Vote! banners by Protest Banner Lending Library.

  •  Asian American woman on a motorcycle with a ballot box open in the back. A yellow flag is open next to her that says MOTO VOTO. She is outside on the street against some hills. Moto Voto + OUVS A collaboration between Moto Voto by Carol Zou + OUVS 2020 in Los Angeles. Photo: Carol Zou

    Artist and community organizer, Carol Zou, drove around with a ‘ballot box’ attached to the back of her motorcycle and collected symbolic votes and distributed information about voter suppression and disenfranchisement in Los Angeles. http://motovoto.org/

  •  A screenshot of a website page that says Unofficial Voting Station at the top in neon. There are two hands, one in pink and the other in green at the bottom. They are reaching out to two boxes: Vote and ACT, the two main sections of the website. OfficialUnofficial.vote A collaboration between Jon Satrom and OUVS 2020.

    OfficialUnofficial.vote is an online voting platform, where anyone can participate in this project and vote in eight different languages. The website houses and shares artist projects, resources, and pedagogical tools. It displays all the tallies for the votes and answers to “I am voting here because…”

  •  Aram Han Sifuentes artwork Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can't 2020, Installation view at Moody Center for the Arts. Photo: Nash Baker

Aram Han Sifuentes has crowd-funded a project with 3AP

  • Protest Banner Lending Library

    • $5,319 raised of $5,000 goal
    • 0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
      • 3Arts matched
      • 106% funded

    This is an urgent moment of crisis in our country. Protests are erupting every day across the United States against hatred, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, and in favor of human rights. Last year, as an act of creative resistance and solidarity, …

    Read more about Protest Banner Lending Library
  • Voting Kits for the Disenfranchised

    • $3,512 raised of $3,500 goal
    • 0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
      • 3Arts matched
      • 100% funded

    For the 2020 U.S. Presidential election season, I am planning to create Voting Kits for the Disenfranchised, a series of toolkits for artists, activists, educators, students, and others to produce imaginative voting stations that will bring attention to voting …

    Read more about Voting Kits for the Disenfranchised