Crown: Mr Mortimer’s Wife @mrmortimerswife
Earrings: Olivia’s Vault
Why Enchanted Asian Day? How did this come about?
EAD Team: It has a polarized origin: It comes from both our love for magic and the wonderful world of imagination, while also being spurred on by unfortunate events in response to the fear and struggle with 2020’s many dark chapters. We feel like beauty and storytelling are our best tools for educating, confronting prejudice, and building a tighter-knit world. We were also inspired by our friends at Black Fae Day and hope to also build a community of support and opportunity for like-minded artists who share a similar background with us while also encouraging others to connect and explore new ideas and new artists.
What does this mean to each of you?
EAD Team: Enchanted Asian Day is important because it serves as a circle that connects creators who all share a collective label that is yet also so extremely diverse in itself. It means
a lot to us that we can let artists share their personal stories and heritage through celebration, stemming from the largest continent in the world.
What do you hope to inspire and show to other creators?
EAD Team: We hope to encourage others to express their perspective and to show that they belong in the world of literary and visual arts as heroes and main characters. We aim to get more eyes on Asian creatives overall as a collective—beyond the tropes of what we normally see in media.
Can you talk about your own relationship to enchantment?
Lillian: The first novel I ever read, as a bright-eyed kindergartener, with a ton of help, of course, was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It was all downhill from there for me. I believed that animals and plants could talk if I listened hard enough, and that the elements and earth were alive and full of spirits. I would personify everything: the sea, the sun, the wind. I had an “I Believe in Unicorns” membership card that I made for myself, and I would try to lure my own unicorn in the woods while promising that there were no hunters behind me with their hounds, waiting for a piece of its horn. There is magic and beauty in the world, if you keep an open mind and don’t get lost in the gray grind of life!
Yinsey: I always loved reading as a child, being taken on adventures to lands beyond the confines of this material world. One of my favorite books was The Oaken Throne by Robin Jarvis, and I owned this gorgeous manga about Mulan. These stories would resonate with me in terms of larger-than-life characters, great sacrifice, and believing in something bigger than just the individual. Growing up, I was fascinated by mythology and ancient civilizations, whether ancient Greek and Roman, the story of the Trojan horse, or the relationship between animals and Egyptian deities. Today I get to run around in gorgeous dresses with a backdrop of a stunning castle with my creative friends and portray myself as a queen in my living room for a self-portrait decked in an elaborate crown with an unsheathed sword. It’s just so fun! What I love about having an imagination is that it’s a free ticket for faraway lands, and it’s limitless.
Bella: Disney’s The Little Mermaid was my introduction to wonder, so much so that the themes of fantasy, water, inner strength, and other worlds that live hidden among our own show up often in my art. After that it was Ferngully, Pocahontas, and stories such as the Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton that whisked me away time and time again with their rich visuals. They inspired me with a need to somehow create my own version of magic through my photography, art that inspires and creates a space of peace and escapism for the passing viewer.
Have you always loved fairy tales and fairies?
Lillian: Most definitely! There is something in them that really resonates with children. I find the idea of faraway magic kingdoms comes so naturally to them. Myths, especially, have this playful nature that just connected with me so easily.
Yinsey: Absolutely. Growing up in England, fairy tales were ever present, whether in the beautiful meadows and flowers or the stories I was exposed to. I was very lucky to have access to fantastical books that allowed me to visit all manner of magical lands!
Bella: At this point, it would be strange to say no! Since I was a child (and I confess even now!) I have always wanted to believe in the existence of fairies and fae folk in the bottom of the garden! Fairy tales are just another way of storytelling, truth through art… only with more wonder.
Can you talk about some Asian folklore, mythology, and fairy tales you love?
Lillian: Definitely! A classic one that I loved growing up was the tale of how the twelve zodiac animals came to be through a great race. I always wished there was a Year of the Cat, but the poor Rat outsmarted him to snag his top position!
I also have a deep fascination with tales that talk about the beyond and what comes after death: tales about the Chinese grim reapers, the Heibai Wuchang, are also interesting to me because they are imbedded deeply in folk religion and practices as well. They are in charge of capturing or guiding spirits to the underworld so that they can be judged for their deeds in their most recent mortal incarnation.
Ancient cosmogonists also told of four types of dragons that I really found interesting as a child: the Celestial Dragon (Tianlong), who fiercely guarded the heavenly realm of the gods; the Dragon of Treasure (Fuzanglong), who roams the underworld protecting secrets both divine and man-made; the terrestrial Earth Dragon (Dilong), who protected and manipulated the waterways and earthly paths; and the Spiritual Dragon (Shenlong), who ran with the wind and rain and was often featured on the garments and regalia of ancient emperors as guardians of agriculture.
Yinsey: I love the story of Mulan and how she took it upon herself to take her father’s place when he was conscripted to fight in a war for China. She disguised herself as a man and managed to become a powerful and tactical warrior in her own right. The ability for ordinary people to do great things always moves me in the messages of my favorite fairy tales.
Bella: Most of the folklore that I grew up with as a Hindu-raised child was connected to the Mahabarata and Ramayana: big, epic tales about war, love, families, faith, adventure, and the gods. These stories are often told from the points of view of men, and now that I’m a little older I find myself curious about the untold stories of the women and female gods and the power they held.
Can you share some of the stories that have moved you most as you’ve engaged with the community at large?
Lillian: We have heard so many stories about artists feeling like they never really belonged anywhere due to growing up as first-generation immigrants, that they were too foreign for their home country and too foreign for their new home. This, along with their growing up and not seeing themselves in any visual media apart from token roles, made us feel like we could be doing better overall. Things have changed a lot in the past decade in a positive way, but of course we can keep on going!