Tylana Renga Enomoto
Thinking about Asian American racism during the time of COVID, along with the passing of my dad, brought up such powerful emotions for me that all I could think to offer in creating this piece was my vulnerability. I wanted to share some ways in which I process my feelings. Sometimes there is just too much and often it's difficult to find words to match what I am feeling, so using sounds, colors, images or movements allow me another outlet for communication, release and healing. The friends who I chose to collaborate with on this project also seem to relate with this sentiment. So, perhaps the piece is a collective reflection of how we are all feeling in this unique moment in time as Asian American artists.
L.A. native Tylana Renga Enomoto is a GRAMMY-award winning musician with over 20 years in the industry, having contributed to numerous studio recordings and live performances for both local and international audiences. Over the last decade, she has worked with artists that include Quetzal, Kamasi Washington, Ethiocali, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, Arthur Verocai, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Ana Tijoux, Son de Madera, Susana Baca, Ariana Grande, Gaslamp Killer, Bonobo, Kali Uchis, Jose Gonzales and Aloe Blacc.
While continuing to expand her creative horizons as a violinist, composer and artist, Renga Enomoto is also an associate clinical social worker who currently works with survivors of violence. As a single working mother, musician and advocate, she strives to find balance within all of life's complexities by focusing on intention, scheduling time to rest, enjoying plant-based culinary adventures, spending time in nature, dancing and laughing as much as possible with her 10-year-old son.
Artist Q & A
What inspired you to create “Perfect Time”?
I was originally inspired by observations or conversations with folks around me from the AAPI community in response to the recent hate crimes that have been so strongly impacting us. I wanted to understand more about people’s experience as Asians in America. Drawing from interactions with colleagues, friends, my 91-year-old aunti and my 10-year-old son, I began to reflect on my own family and personal experiences. Listening to my aunt’s stories was particularly intense and difficult for me to sit with at times, especially since my father’s recent passing, she is the only living elder remaining from that side of the family. “Before, getting by or surviving really meant that we often had to just grin and bear it,” she said reflecting on various assaults and discriminations that she endured as a young woman. “These days, it’s okay to speak up...and I guess that’s a good thing,” Aunti Mary continued. I kept thinking about all the things she had to do or experience in order to survive. What does that do to a person’s perception of self? How have her life experiences influenced our family relationships and my life? What can we learn and unlearn from our elders and ancestors? Can we learn to love ourselves and each other unconditionally, even though that is not what we are taught by society to do? When is the right time to forgive and to let go of that which no longer serves us? Whenever I find myself searching for answers, I always turn to the creative process as it always helps me somehow make better sense of what I am truly feeling.
This piece was also inspired by a song that I had written many years ago. Tonal ideas came to me in a dream one night and I wrote about the feeling of waiting for the perfect time to do something. Today the piece has transformed into a way of honoring and/or healing from the overwhelming heartache of our present day, yet I feel the original sentiment still applies
Can you share about the photos in the piece, and what made you choose these specific photos to tell the story of “Perfect Time”?
Recently I found some old photos of my father’s family that I had never seen before. I feel that they offer a few glimpses into my family’s Japanese-American experience. I wanted to somehow honor their life and highlight the passing of time. I chose some more recent and current photos to express a sense of their experience as it relates to my own. Times were never perfect when any of the moments were captured, but the moments were real, which somehow makes them perfect times as I look at them now.
What do you hope the audience takes away from this piece?
I hope the audience can take the piece as an invitation to tap into their own creativity and to lean into gratitude whenever they can, as time here is so limited. So, when times are difficult, it’s not as easy to stay bitter or resentful when you’re grateful. Also, I hope they enjoy the work of my amazing friends Argee Geronca and Lionmilk who helped out tremendously on this piece. Please check them out! They are two of my current favorite Asian artists in L.A.
In light of the recent hate crimes against the AAPI community, what is the role of artivism in supporting the AAPI community?
I believe that ALL forms of creativity can be utilized as tools for self-care and healing. I resonate with the idea that acts of self-care are political acts. Prioritizing mental and physical health over “productivity” or “success” can be considered revolutionary these days, and I consider any movement in this direction a beautiful thing. For me, self-care is creating art, music and engaging in the creative process because it can help me explore my internal world with more curiosity, gentleness and kindness. Creative expression can also allow us to expand the ways in which we communicate with one another. I think that having ways to explore, process and express feelings authentically may be crucial to us as we brave these turbulent movements toward change together. This is one way I believe artivism may play a significant role in supporting the AAPI community and all communities, as we work to build a more just society and dismantle systems that are oppressive. There is either no perfect time or every time is perfect to start being and embracing exactly who we are. Who do we want to be for ourselves and for others?
What is one piece of advice you would share with your younger self?
I would advise my younger self not to listen to advice, but to trust our intuition.