Laura Kina

Holding On
October 18 - November 23, 2019

Postcard image of Laura Kina's painting "Gama" from her series "Holding On" for FLXST Contemporary art gallery in Chicago


This work has been funded in part by a 2019 DePaul University Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Summer Research Grant and a 3Arts Residency Fellowship Artist-In-Residence at the Joan Mitchell Residency.

Laura Kina is debuting new paintings for her first solo art show entitled Holding On at FLXST Contemporary art gallery in Chicago. The show features a collection of artworks of sacred, WWII memorial sites, and present-day military-occupied spaces in Okinawa, Japan. In all the art show examines the intersections of ancestral longings and memory and legacies of trauma from war and occupation with the genre of landscape painting.

Prop roots of banyan trees found throughout Okinawa, Laura Kina’s ancestral homeland, inspired the new art exhibition of paintings. These roots hold onto the Earth, regenerating and persevering in the harshest of contexts. In short, the roots of banyan trees always manage to find new routes to reclaim the land around them. Moreover, the paintings also reference the mythology of Kijimuna wood spirits and other indigenous Uchinanchu/Okinawan beliefs of spirit guardians of the land and sea.



Born in California and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Laura Kina is a mixed-race Okinawan American artist and scholar based in Chicago. She earned her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago studying under Kerry James Marshall and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently the Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, & Design and Director of Critical Ethnic Studies at DePaul University. Kina is a 2019 Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist-in-Residence awardee, 2018 3Arts 3AP, and 2011 National Endowment for the Arts grants recipient. Her work has exhibited nationally and internationally including India Habitat Centre and India International Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, Spertus Museum, the Japanese American National Museum, the Rose Art Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

Laura Kina is the co-author of Queering Contemporary Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2017) and War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013). Publications of Kina's artwork include Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos (Bess Press, 2019); Trans-Pacific Japanese American Studies: Conversations on Race and Racializations (University of Hawaii Press, 2016); Sugar/Islands: Finding Okinawa in Hawaiʻi – the art of Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara (Bear River Press, 2015); I Want the Wide American Earth (Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 2013); and The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation (Spertus Press, 2007).

Kina’s work is in the HilgerBROTKunsthalle collection (Austria), DePaul School of Music, North Eastern Illinois University, and in private collections across the US, including the collection of Chicago gallerist Monique Meloche.