Laura Kina is a visual artist and scholar who specializes in painting, drawing, and writing on contemporary art. Her work addresses Asian American and mixed race identities and histories with a focus on Okinawa and Hawaii diaspora and themes of distance and belonging. She was born in Riverside, CA in 1973 to an Okinawan father from Hawaii and a Spanish-Basque/Anglo mother and raised in Poulsbo, WA--a small Norwegian town in the Pacific Northwest. She earned her BFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994 and her MFA in studio art from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001.
Kina is Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, & Design and Director of the Critical Ethnic Studies M.A. program at DePaul University; co-editor, along with Jan Christian Bernabe, of Queering Contemporary Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2017); co-editor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); co-founder of the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association, conference, and journal; reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (Brill); events editor for American Quarterly (American Studies Association); and an editorial board member of Amerasia Journal (UCLA). Her scholarship has been funded by grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Terra Foundation for American Art.
Kina’s solo exhibitions include: Uchinanchu (2016), Blue Hawaii (2014, 2015), Sugar (2010), A Many-Splendored Thing (2010), Aloha Dreams (2007), Loving (2006), and Hapa Soap Operas (2003). Her artwork has been exhibited across the US and internationally including at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, India International Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, Rose Art Museum, Spertus Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Sugar/Islands: Finding Okinawa in Hawaii – the Art of Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara was on view in 2015 at the Japanese American National Museum with an exhibition catalog published by Bear River Press. Kina’s current projects include working as the lead curator for a “Chicago-Midwest” module for the Virtual Asian American Art Museum-–a digital humanities project led by New York University in partnership with the Smithsonian and Getty Research Institute (forthcoming Fall 2018) and illustrating Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos, a bilingual (Hawaii Creole/Uchinaaguchi-Japanese) children’s book written by Lee A. Tonouchi (forthcoming Bess Press).