My maternal grandmother, Josephine Woo, née Chinn, was born in Seattle in 1919 and had incredible hands. They were delicate but strong, and had arthritic knots at the joints that made them to look like apple branches. She lived in LA since the 1940’s and collected fabrics, notions and supplies during her entire lifetime. For a time she worked as a sewer and designer at a dress shop near Hyperion in Silverlake. One day, she told me, a woman came into the shop and was interested in having clothes made to fit her doll. She was planning to market the doll as a toy and the toy would later become known as Barbie. At some point Josie enrolled in classes at Chouinard, but said she didn’t feel she was such a good artist, that she made some lampshades and then called it a day. In the mid 60’s she began making papier mache jewelry that she hand painted and sold at department stores in LA like Bullock’s. When I look at the old clippings that feature her works illustrated, I can’t help but notice that her name and her brand, ‘By Josie’, weren’t credited, and I think about the rarity of an Asian American woman being in her position during that time. She told me that one time, many years later, she spotted a bracelet of hers in a thrift shop and I could tell by her elation in recounting the story that it was more meaningful to have found her work circulating in this way, more so than being in the department stores. She had an unconventional sense of value that I honor.

Ava Woo Kaufman was born in 1986, in San Francisco, she lives and works in Point Reyes, California. She graduated from UCLA Art in 2008 and co-founded the company Buena Vista in 2012. She works in textiles, photography, printmaking, and painting. In 2022, South Willard mounted an exhibition of her work.