The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice

Kristina Wong, Jessica Arana, Māhealani Flournoy, and Laura Karlin
Monday, February 6, 2023
Episode Summary

Performance artist, comedian, activist, and local elected official Kristina Wong began sewing masks three days into the COVID-19 shutdown and spreading the word through her social media. Due to the overwhelming response, she enlisted friends and strangers to form the Auntie Sewing Squad to provide PPE and other relief to people all over the country. The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice tells the stories of these primarily BIPOC folks who took up the call to fill in the gaps of the U.S. government responded by creating a model for mutual aid in the 21st century. Join Wong and the Aunties on the ALOUD stage as they share their stories ahead of the highly anticipated Los Angeles premiere of Wong’s Pulitzer Prize finalist solo play, Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord.

Participant(s) Bio

Kristina Wong (she/ her) is a performance artist, comedian, writer, and elected representative in Koreatown Los Angeles who has been presented internationally across North America, the UK, Hong Kong, and Africa. Kristina founded Auntie Sewing Squad, a national network of volunteers sewing masks for vulnerable communities. They have a book from the University of California Press. Her show Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord is a New York Times Critics Pick that premiered off-Broadway at New York Theater Workshop. It’s the finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and winner of the Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for best Solo Performance.

Jessica Arana is a Xicana/American/Mexican designer, educator, and artist. Her work has appeared in Design Observer, Eye on Design, and a co-curated Google Arts & Culture exhibition. As a Super Auntie, Jessica prioritized Black and Brown communities by thoughtfully developing relationships with over 70 organizations and activists to reach farm workers, formerly incarcerated women, Black community centers, BLM, low-income laborers, migrants, and asylum seekers. She is proud of developing pathways to get masks and donated goods to folks on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border and rapidly coordinating protective KN95 masks to farm workers during the 2020 and 2021 wildfires.

Māhealani Flournoy is a professional chef based in Pasadena, California. Her biggest accomplishment is as a special-needs mom and rare disease advocate for her son Aiden, who was diagnosed at birth with Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome. She’s been a longtime member of Hālau Hula Moani’a’ala Anuhea in Monterey Park and perpetuates her Hawai’ian culture through dance, chant, and aloha. She is the Culinary Director of Foraging and Mushroom Hunting Women of Socal and can often be found hiking and eating the weeds in the local San Gabriel Mountains.

Laura Karlin is the founder and Artistic Director of Invertigo Dance Theatre. She founded Invertigo Dance Theatre in 2007, and it is a vibrant dance institution in Los Angeles. She choreographs for the company and works to make Invertigo a lively presence in LA through lush performance, transformative engagement programming, and innovative collaboration. Through Invertigo, she co-founded the Dancing Through Parkinson’s program. Laura is a Super Auntie in the Auntie Sewing Squad, a Reproductive Justice activist, a gardener, a mama, an herbalist, and a fan of popsicle stick jokes. She wants to talk to you about dance, pies, gardens, social justice, and other such stardust.