Jasmine Lee, MPH is a Founder and local Community Artist of Justfly Project, Managing Director of Community Health Assessment at the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI) and Co-Director of the Social Justice Mediator Program (SJMP) at Vital Village Network. She recently received a Masters in Public Health at Boston University School of Public Health with a certificate in Community Assessment, Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Jasmine was born and raised in Boston, MA. She remains grounded by her own and families lived experiences as survivors of DV and homelessness. Her whole life has been devoted to tackling issues impacting her own community through public health and art interventions.

Website: https://artofasurvivor.wordpress.com/

Artist Statement:

Jasmine Lee is a local community artist born and raised in Boston since 1992, MA. She grew up in Boston’s Chinatown and Charlestown, where she currently still resides. Her art practice is grounded by her own and families' lived experiences as a survivor of DV and homelessness. As an artist, she has devoted her whole life to tackling issues impacting her own community through murals, public art installations and art interventions.

Her artistic practice started as early as high school while attending Boston Arts Academy in 2006. Even as a young child with limited art supplies or resources, Jasmine would recycle items and transform them into small gifts and thank you cards for loved ones. This led her to receiving a full scholarship to attend The Oxbow School and then Tufts University for her undergraduate degree in American Studies and Community Health. Jasmine used political organizing and the arts to combat on and off campus issues of racism among BIPOC college students. In 2013, Jasmine received the Ted Shapiro Award and conducted qualitative research on the positive impacts of gardening among Chinese immigrants through interviews, videos and photography.

After graduation, Jasmine became the Art Director of R Visions for Chinatown and lead artist in 2015. She worked with community members, local artists and key stakeholders to raise awareness and organize collective actions around the affordable housing crisis through public art interventions. In collaboration with the Chinese Progressive Association and Asian American Resource Workshop, Jasmine worked with a team of artists to host an Against Gentrification Paint-In and facilitated Chinatown Community members in painting a community mural while responding to the rise in gentrification in Boston.

Her passion for community art interventions led her to start her own artistic practice called Justfly Project and pursue a Masters in Public Health at Boston University. She was awarded the Activist Lab Impact Grant to provide COVID-19 supplies to BIPOC shelters in Boston through her strengths as a public health practitioner and artist. Currently, Jasmine continues to work on her mutual aid project to sew, fundraise and donate free face masks to BIPOC shelters that have supported her and her family in the past.

My artistic practice has been the means of creating transformative change and healing. Through the Paintbox and Tasteful Boston Utility Box Grant, I have the opportunity to paint joyful experiences of food, culture and community in Chinatown through the lens as an Asian American woman growing up with a single-parent household. I also continue to collaborate with community organizations including AAPI Force Civic Education Fund on designing graphic art campaigns centered on our shared values of justice and GOTV work across the nation during the presidential election in 2020.

Jasmine Lee continues to use her art practice to not only tackle issues such as gentrification, domestic violence, homelessness, health equity, and racism, but to also reimagine and envision a better future. Jasmine is passionate about bringing transformative justice and making community visions a reality in her everyday artistic practice.

Project Description:

The purpose of this project is to showcase community joy, stories and beauty of mask creation while also responding to COVID and the existing inequities among BIPOC communities in MA. Even prior to the US declaring a national emergency on COVID, BIPOC shelters, organizations, groups and people have been at the forefront of combating various inequities in their own communities. With the ongoing pandemic, many issues have exacerbated and disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities. Among these inequities, shortages and rising cost of mask supplies still remain for BIPOC shelters and people at the global, national and local levels. At the same time, the state of Massachusetts has issued a mask mandate requiring all individuals to still wear masks in various settings. The most recent revised mask mandate (effective July 30, 2021) requires mandatory mask wearing in public transit, schools, shelters, and other public spaces. Emergency shelters and many BIPOC communities in MA still have high rates of COVID cases and low rates of vaccinations, and are still in need of masks and mask donations. With limited resources, it has been difficult to meet these community needs.

Historically, masks have been used for both functionality and artistic expression in my culture and community. Mask wearing is an act of caring for self, others and our community. Masks are worn during flu season or whenever one is sick to prevent transmission. At the same time, mask designs are also used as a form of personal aesthetic and expression. Through this grant, I want to preserve the joy and artistic expression of mask designing and wearing while also supplying masks to my community during the pandemic and in the future.

For my process, I will collaborate with 10 BIPOC community leaders to create a mask collection. Community collaborators will be recruited through my Justfly Project network as a Boston Arts Academy Alumni, former Chinatown Youth Worker, former Chinatown Art Director and current Public Health Practitioner. I will work with each collaborator to co-design a mask tailored to their face and needs. After the design process, we will physically and virtually showcase the mask collection through community events and social media. The community event will host a mask collection showcase where community leaders share their masks, stories and visions of joy. The public will also be able to participate in community building activities including mask decorating, storytelling, visioning of joy and celebration through photobooth sessions. Through social media, I will also post a portrait of community members wearing the masks. Portraits can be taken at a designated studio space or individually at home while complying with social distancing measures and protocols. I will also include a description of the mask as well as a short story of a community member and their response to “what gives them joy?’ Finally, I would like to sew and donate 700 masks with these designs to local BIPOC shelters, organizations, groups and individuals. I hope this project can continue to support the ongoing, critical work of BIPOC communities in MA, if given the opportunity.

For this project, I aim to work with BIPOC community members and artists that are BPS students or alums. I plan to contact a Boston Arts Academy alumni and Studio Art faculty at a Boston Public School (BPS) to collaborate with their fashion club students of color. Another plan is to contact former Chinatown youth and local Chinatown organization(s) such as the Henry Wong and You King Yee Memorial Gallery at the Chinese Progressive Association. BPS students of color have historically received little to no resources in the arts and education in general. The legacy of this historical oppression still impacts BPS students today and their trajectory after graduation as well. Therefore, this project aims to center and empower young student artists of color and community leaders in their creative vision for the future. I also plan to showcase the community mask collection and stories through my public social media platform called Justfly Project. Justfly Project is an artistic space founded in 2020 and implements art projects, collaborations and interventions grounded by the founding artist and her family’s experiences in being survivors of homelessness, DV, poverty, racism, sexism and other injustices. Justfly Project was created in response to the lack of spaces that centered the very people, families and communities facing and combating these systemic issues everyday. The work of the Justfly Project is deeply rooted in community through the arts and community building. In response to community needs, Justfly Project launched the only mutual aid initiative to design, sew, and donate handmade cotton masks specifically to BIPOC communities (shelters, organizations, groups and people) in Boston and beyond. Therefore, Justfly Project provides a public virtual space that will best center the BIPOC community collaborators in showcasing their mask design, stories, joy and vision.