Lulu Yao Gioiello and Sirui Ma launch an auction to support New York's Asian American Federation

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has induced major devastation, severely compromising health, financial stability, and social life. But the pandemic has also bred a more insidious effect: a sharp spike in anti-Asian sentiment. Last month, 14 hate crimes were reported in New York City alone. Seeking a scapegoat, disgruntled city-dwellers have directed slurs and acts of violence towards Asian Americans, perpetuating false beliefs about their association with the virus. Asian American-run businesses have suffered in outsized proportion; many restaurants in Chinatown have shuttered, despite easily accommodating take-out and delivery options.

Appalled by the influx of hostility, Lulu Yao Gioiello, founder of FAR-NEAR, and photographer Sirui Ma launched Artists for Asian American Federation (AFFAF). In the vein of A24’s fundraising effort for FDNY—auctioning off the engulfing May Queen gown and other items from Ari Aster’s “Midsommar”—Gioiello and Ma have put together an auction of their own. Instead of indie movie paraphernalia, AFAAF offers donated pieces from exclusively Asian artists and allies. A sampling of items for sale includes an autographed copy of In The Youth of Our Fury by Margaret Zhang, a head prop made with found objects by wig-maker Tomihiro Kono, and a swirl print mesh dress from designer Kim Shui.

Each sale benefits the Asian American Federation (AAF), an organization committed to providing comprehensive support for New York City’s pan-Asian communities. While in the throes of COVID-19, the AAF is particularly focused on securing food and shelter for house bound seniors, assisting small business owners in applying for loans, sustaining mental health programs, and advocating for policies that deter racial hostility. Participating in AFFAF’s auction, then, is a great way to contribute both monetary and moral support, affirming the abundant, impressive creative output of Asian Americans.

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