Feelings of Belonging, and Tea.

On August 19, 2018, an intimate afternoon conversation took place exploring the concept of belonging. The panelists were: ethnomusicologist W.F. Umi Hsu, Ph.D; multidisciplinary artist traci kato-kiriyama; and artist and adoptee Nicole Rademacher.

The conversation and event looked closely at feelings of belonging, with the focus on concepts of when and how people feel that they do belong. It was an open format where many guests joined in the conversation, discussing how we, as a community, can develop and create opportunities for individuals to feel a sense of belonging and what we are already doing to create communities.


W.F. Umi Hsu (pronouns They/Them) was born in Taipei and moved to Virginia at age 12. Hsu is a sound ethnographer and artist whose work is driven by inquiries about sound and migratory communities. Working to create social change through sound, Hsu leads two projects: LA Listens, a community engagement platform that reflects on LA’s changing sensory and social ecology; and mobile placemaking collective Movable Parts. Hsu also writes songs about the melancholic postcolony in ghost pop band Bitter Party. With a PhD in Critical and Comparative Studies from the University of Virginia Music Department, Hsu has received fellowships and awards from National Endowment for the Arts, American Council for Learned Society, Shuttleworth Foundation, and LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is an adjunct professor at USC and at ArtCenter College of Design.

traci kato-kiriyama (pronouns: She/They) is an award-winning artist, community organizer, and cultural producer. In the community, traci is the Director/Co-Founder of Tuesday Night Project (presenter of art+community series, Tuesday Night Cafe, now in its 20th year and the longest-running Asian American mic series in the country). She is also a steering committee member of the VigilantLOVE Coalition, working against Islamophobia and for safety through solidarity and healing initiatives. In their career, traci is an actor and principal writer for PULLproject Ensemble and has received recognition from several institutions and juries including two consecutive national grant awards from the Network of Ensemble Theaters. Their current show in development, Tales of Clamor, is both a call to action and an analysis of silence and the collective clamor necessary to show up for self and other in the name of solidarity, safety, and justice. Recently, she was the springtime Teaching Artist-in-Residence for Grand Park and Arts & Culture Consultant for NeighborWorks America. She was a guest lecturer for three years at Pitzer College, focusing on creative, counseling, and community paths in radical wellness & healing. Throughout each year for over the last two decades, she has toured to hundreds of venues throughout the country as a performer/actor, writer, theatre deviser & collaborator, writing/storytelling and ensemble performance facilitator, educator, speech & speaking coach, cultural producer, and artist-in-residence.

Nicole Rademacher (pronouns: She/Her) is an artist who draws on her personal experience as a reunited, multi-ethnic adoptee to investigate non-verbal communication through video, drawing, collage, watercolor, and community engagement. In the Summer of 2017, Rademacher facilitated nine workshops at diverse venues in greater Los Angeles including Self Help Graphics, 18th Street Arts Center, California African American Museum, and One Archives. The workshops, Origin Stories, were originally designed to empower adopted and fostered people to record their unique histories. That summer the workshops, which she continues, were opened up to artists, particularly female-identifying artists and artists who feel marginalized. Nicole received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from Alfred University in New York State. She is currently an MA candidate for Marital & Family Therapy w/ specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy at Loyola Marymount University (LA). She held an artist residency at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, received a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Artistic Community Engagement Grant, a Veridian Community Engagement Fellowship, a Maxine B Junge Scholarship for her studies at LMU, and a Regional Artist Project Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. Nicole has exhibited and screened work worldwide, including at video art film festivals and cultural institutions in Germany, Spain, China, Chile, and recently at LAX airport. Nicole is the founder of Acogedor, and she currently lives and works in Los Angeles.