The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing) presents “What’s in your cup? Community-Brewed Culture,” a new exhibition honoring the beverages that have given life to communities – from farmers and families who nurture the raw materials to friends and kin who bond over shared drinks. It acknowledges their place in our community’s most treasured rituals and spaces: the tea house, the after-school hangout, the work break, and the raucous karaoke night.
The ebbs and flows of Western culture’s taste for Asian and so-called Asian-inspired drinks also help tell the story of Asian Pacific American communities. Each beverage has its own unique path – some originating in Asia, spread by trade and empire with gains in global popularity. Others were reinvented by Asian Pacific Americans over generations of experimentation and adaptation.
By the time a drink reaches your lips, it’s been touched by dozens of hands, survived and changed in different climates, and been crafted and recrafted to perfect its taste. In this exhibition, explore the stories of the growers, scientists, and innovators who created and continue to adapt Asian beverages so our cultures can thrive. What’s in your cup? Community-Brewed Culture also speaks to the histories of commerce, colonization, and survival embodied in the beverages we consume, including personal stories from:
- The Tomisawa family who moved their 20-generation family sake business from Japan to Seattle following the Fukushima nuclear disaster that destroyed their operations.
- Joan and Bob Seko who ran the beloved Bush Garden, a karaoke bar and former restaurant in the Chinatown-International District whose viability is threatened by gentrification of the neighborhood.
- Carmel Laurino who is working to increase the value of Filipino coffee by connecting growers to consumers across the world.
- Lydia Lin who operates Seattle Best Tea in the Chinatown-International District, inviting the public to experience Chinese culture through tea and how “drinking tea shortens the distance between people”.
- Koichi Kitazumi who works at Starbucks and shares how they develop products overseas that match the tastes of its consumers and ensure its stores serve as a community gathering place.
In the words of Chris Murakami, lead brewer at Elysian Brewing, “It is the common man’s social lubricant. It gets people talking.. a lot of people who normally wouldn’t talk to each other might meet for a pint of beer and actually find some common ground.”
What’s in your cup? will be on display from October 13, 2017 to September 16, 2018. Lead sponsor for this exhibition is Delta Air Lines.