Library sponsored children’s author Thanhhà Lai for a talk, Q&A,
By Avery Jones | Editor
Delta Digital News Service
June 6, 2023
JONESBORO, Ark. – On the weekend of May 19 through 20, the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The Friends of the Library sponsored children’s author Thanhhà Lai for a talk, Q&A, and book signing from 5:30-7 PM. She also did a presentation earlier in the day for students.
Lai discussed her books and how they connect to her life as a child when she fled the Vietnamese War with her family. She signed copies of her newest book, When Clouds Touch Us, published this month. It’s the sequel to her highly successful first book, Inside Out & Back Again, published in 2011.
The library hosted the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Festival from 10 AM – 2 PM on the front lawn. Many crafts and food vendors came to celebrate, and the library gave away free copies of When Clouds Touch Us. International students from ASU-Jonesboro kicked off the festival with a drum performance, and later, there was karate lessons, a cosplay contest, and a tai chi demonstration.
A variety of arts and crafts vendors attended, including art, jewelry, cosmetics, and clothes designers. Almost all of the vendors were small businesses local to Arkansas.
Marissa Clark from True North Designs featured her artistic engravings. She does her work with laser engravers and has been doing engravings for three years. She has enjoyed drawing and working with wood since she was young, however.
She has her own shop and can engrave any design and customize anything of any material. A few of the items featured at her stand included home decor, wall hangings, and earrings.
Chenoa Summers of Anthropocenic Art was there to display her paintings. The name is in reference to how her artwork reflects the current period of the Earth whereas her earlier work mostly focused on prehistoric animal life.
Summers is a biologist who likes to paint the nature that she studies. She has three degrees in science and is currently working on a biology degree. She mostly does watercolor paintings but also crochets. She primarily sells her work online.
Britni from Rosemore Creative displayed her homemade cosmetic and hygienic products. She sells facial care, bath salts and bombs, wax melts, candles, hand and body soap, among other things.
She’s been coming to the library’s festivals for many years, but previously sold bags and other crochet crafts. She wanted to expand the kind of products she made, so she started teaching herself to make hygienic and cosmetic products last year. She primarily sells online.
Glitter Critter Studios was selling handmade clothes, earrings, stickers, and more. Their designs were very colorful and bright, almost cartoon-like.
Heather, one of the artists, said that her work is inspired by things from her childhood and also the exotic animals she rescues in her spare time. She has been a professional freelance artist for the past five years.
Glitter Critter Studios is an artist collective studio made up of three friends, including Heather, located in Memphis. This was their first time in Arkansas and first time at one of the library’s festivals.
Another designer, Alexandra of Xandra Page Co., displayed her handmade jewelry. She started making and selling her jewelry in 2020, looking for a creative outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she’s been crafty from a young age and is self-taught.
Right now, Xandra Page Co. has turned into a full-time job for her. She also has a graduate degree in English but is enjoying where she’s at for the moment. She primarily sells online and also at some festivals.
There were also some organizations there to represent themselves. The International Students Association from ASU-Jonesboro were there to talk about the kind of opportunities they offer for international students. This is the first time the association has been to the library’s festival, but they’ve been to lots of other events to represent and promote themselves.
They help to bring together international students on campus through various activities so that they can connect with others they have something in common with, get to know each other’s cultures, and become more comfortable in a culture that’s new to them.
The three international students from the association at the festival—Nihal, Mahita, and Pauline–showcased the diverse interests of the association, one being a computer science major, one a wildlife conservation major, and one having just graduated with a master’s in psychology, respectively.
A nonprofit organization called The Reform Alliance was also in attendance. Their focus is education equity for K-12 students in Arkansas.
They raise awareness for all types of education options, including public, private, homeschool, and microschool. They also offer scholarships.
There were also a few food vendors there, such as Spice Girls Thai Street Food which soft-opened just this May. The food truck is an offshoot of the Sai Thai restaurant which closed in April. Spice Girls’ official grand opening will be June 1.
According to Valerie Carroll from Friends of the Library, the Craighead County Library hosts two festivals per year, and they choose a different theme each time. This is the first time AAPI Month has been the theme.
“I think that some of the folks from the Multicultural Committee are probably here at the event, but they do have a new committee where they’ve been trying to do some different things to widen out the cultural net, bring in some more people, and teach people who are here about different cultures,” Carroll said.
Note: Feature photo by Avery Jones
Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council