Art as Connective Tissue To Science, with Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya
After studying neuroscience at Columbia and spending years researching in an Alzheimer’s lab, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya felt compelled to tell the stories of science in a creative and impactful way. A multidisciplinary artist who describes her pieces as an explosion or color and joy, Amanda and her work are now globally celebrated for being creative connective tissue between the communities of science and art. And while her work is honored in museums, galleries, and prestigious publications, Amanda is using this unique time in history to focus on public art and awakening the next generation of badass women scientists. Listen to this episode to hear Amanda explain the parallels between women in STEM and dark matter.
Michelle Khouri 0:00
What do design and neural connections have in common? Well, to Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, they have everything in common. On this episode of The Cultured Podcast, get ready because science and art collide. Welcome to The Cultured Podcast. I’m your host, Michelle Khouri. And together, we’ll journey into the unknown reaches of the art world.
Hello, my babies. Did you like my custom sound effects at the teaser? Crazy, right? This really truly is a fascinating conversation between me and Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. She’s amazing. She’s amazing! And you’re about to hear that. And I also, you know, after that conversation, was left with so many ideas and inspirations. So this is definitely one that I’m excited to share with you. I can’t wait for you to meet her. But before we get into that, I also wanted to give you a little heads up, babies, we are going to be taking a Cultured break. Cultured holidays in November in December, you will not be getting any new Cultured episodes. We’ll be back at it in January, New Year, new episodes, what’s up. And I’ll just keep reminding you guys in the forthcoming episodes so that you don’t feel left alone, especially in the holidays. That would be terrible. We love you. But also, it’s a super busy time for my company FRQNCY Media. We get pretty overloaded with production projects and content strategy and consulting projects. So that’s going to be our time to really sink into getting a ton of work done. So with that out of the way, let’s talk about my inspiration for the week. Voting. Speaking of November, are you voting? Are you voting in local elections? Are you voting in state elections? Are you voting in primary elections? Truly, truly, truly, like we need to be voting as citizens of this country, in every single election. Our lives are dictated, on a daily basis, by the people either chosen and put into office or automatically, you know, who get voted into office because not enough people are voting or they don’t have opponents running against them. There are a few tools that I’ve recently discovered that I love. One of them actually has a Kickstarter campaign, which I am going to be donating to and I highly suggest you support them as well because it’s been so fabulously helpful for me in all of these elections, whether they’re local, state, or federal elections. And it’s branch.vote. It’s a free platform online. There’s no app. You just go to branch.vote and they break down based on your address, what your ballot is going to look like, which candidates you have to choose from, and then they have these amazing audio snippets that break down each candidates’ platforms and positions. It’s really helpful. And then you can select the ones that you are choosing based on the platform points and they prepare your ballot for you. And by doing this in advance of going to my polling station, I basically roll up and it takes me all of five minutes to vote, because I’ve already studied the ballot. I’ve prepared my own version of the ballot. And then I’m just like bing-bing-bing-boop-ching. And my vote is cast. It’s pretty amazing. So voting is my inspiration. It’s the thing that in the midst of a global health, social, political and economic crisis makes me feel the most powerful, frankly, even though there is tampering taking place and voter suppression specifically in my state of Georgia in the United States. I am doing whatever I can to avoid that suppression and avoid that tampering, which is basically I vote early and in person with a mask on and washing my hands frequently, making sure that I’m staying socially distant. Our polling places here in Atlanta, Georgia are amazing. They have done a great job of maintaining distance, at least the ones in my neighborhood in the southeast side of Atlanta. So just, you know, do what’s right for you, but please, please, please, whatever you do, vote. Please. I beg you, Please, inspire me. Please, vote. Please. And that said I vote for this interview. It’s time to talk to Amanda.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. Welcome to The Cultured Podcast!
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 5:16
Thank you. Thank you. And that was perfect pronunciation.
Michelle Khouri 5:19
Thanks. I did practice it. We’re here to talk about a seemingly infinite amount of talent, skill, projects and creation that come from that amazing brain of yours. So why don’t we level set and you just tell us who you are and what your art forms are?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 5:40
Yes, I am calling myself a multidisciplinary artist. At the moment, I am focusing on a variety of things including large scale murals, large scale sculpture, augmented reality, web applications, and digital work and all of it is focused around this idea of how can we better connect science and society. And a big part of my work is also focused around women. Because I think we are so often left out of every single conversation, whether it’s, you know, research on our very own bodies, because oh, that pesky thing called a period is just too annoying to deal with during research studies. Or we’re just written out of history because everyone forgot about us. And that’s a problem.
Michelle Khouri 6:27
Well, right. We’re in a patriarchy.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 6:29
Michelle Khouri 6:30
Where men’s achievements and comfort and health are prioritized above all else.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 6:37
Michelle Khouri 6:38
And that’s what’s so incredible about your work is that you then flip the patriarchy on its head and you highlight the achievements of all those who haven’t had the platform or the recognition that they very much deserve.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 6:53
Michelle Khouri 6:54
So there’s a whole lot that you covered there. And that’s how I would describe the energy I get from you. I think is like unhinged exploration, unhinged in that you allow yourself to really like go for it and be guided by your curiosity which I find phenomenally appealing and interesting, intriguing and inspiring. You have had this like, long career as a scientist, a neuroscientist, and the very foundation of science is exploration, is a quest for discovery and a detachment from the outcome. So like, even when something is validated through science, it can be invalidated, or replaced by another truth, which I find philosophically fascinating.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 7:39
It’s very iterative.
Michelle Khouri 7:41
Yes, it’s iterative.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 7:42
In the same way that art and design is. Absolutely. Yeah.
Michelle Khouri 7:45 =
But you’ve always had both sides of your brain, right? Because you were a ballerina for a while.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 7:50
I was yes.
Michelle Khouri 7:52
And then you moved into science?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 7:54
And then I got injured and I tore everything out of my knee and decided to figure out, “Oh, hey, um, why is it that I can’t feel parts of my leg? Should we maybe investigate this?”
Michelle Khouri 8:07
Everyone when they injure themselves, their first step is let me investigate what’s happening to like my body.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 8:13
Oh, I mean, you cry first, then and then you take a step back and you investigate.
Michelle Khouri 8:19
And that investigation led you where?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 8:21
To neuroscience. To, you know, how do neurons give rise to movement? How does the brain communicate with the spinal cord? And then how does that send signals out to our muscles? And from there, I started looking into, you know, how do our brains and nerves develop? And then, from there, that led me to, oh, if I’m studying, you know, young development, why shouldn’t I study older development and study how our brains age and how we can age better?
Michelle Khouri 8:51
What does that mean to you?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 8:53
When I was doing research I was primarily focused on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and not necessarily on patient treatment, but just, you know, what are the steps that we can take to offset any pre-existing damage? Or, as I said before, how do we mentally age better? How do we keep our mental faculties intact, as long as possible? I can name four main things that are pretty easy to do. First is exercise. Just move. It’ll keep things nice and tight. Get some sleep. Because that is when our brains, essentially, you know, do some self-cleaning, take out all that old junk and also how they consolidate memory. So if you want to make sure you learn and make sure you remember the things you learn, just just get some sleep. I promise, it’ll just make your life and everyone else’s life way, way easier. And then also maintain good social connections. I think this one might surprise folks but as we age, you know, we just lose touch with friends, and we’ve seen this a lot in older folks, where they just don’t have very strong community connections. So maintaining those actually is not only good for your mental well being your physical well being as well. And last is keep learning. It could even be a small one like, oh, instead of scrambling my eggs, sunny side up. Yeah. So like these tiny little tweaks, they make a difference.
Michelle Khouri 10:26
I’m getting a, in my opinion, a glimpse into, like, the way that your mind works and the things that are pillars, right? For you. But I also think that they must translate into your artwork. You know, the things that you just talked about with a healthy brain, how does that translate into the actual artwork that you create?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 10:47
I think it translates in the way that I think about how we go about having healthy brains because it’s all about, as I mentioned, these small little tweaks and adjustments and there are many layers of understanding where, you know, if you just did these four things because I asked you to? Cool. Amazing. But also, if you wanted to learn a bit more and delve into, you know, the actual neural connections of this research, that is also amazing but not required. And I think when I approach my work it is in layers of understanding. So for example, if I’m going to communicate dark matter with a mural, there are many different ways that I could do that. But I just make sure whatever visual comes out at the end, is not only, you know, an empowering image of women, but is also has little hints and little glimpses of the science itself, whether it’s, you know, “Oh, it looks like space.” Okay, so dark matter. Scientists are trying to measure these anti-deuterons coming from space. If that’s all you get, excellent. If you just connect dark matter with space at all, great. If you connect that women are doing science about dark matter, great too. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be such a literal translation of the science itself. But I think in the process of iterating, through, you know, how do we best storytell for complex topics, that’s really kind of where it comes through.
Michelle Khouri 12:24
Which is actually what I find fascinating about your approach and your split brain, if you will, like your, you know, you really use both sides of your brain. And what I find so interesting about your graphic work in particular, is how you balance abstraction and the feeling of the concept that you’re communicating with actual more pragmatic and direct translations and motifs surrounding that subject matter. And to me, that is a rarity in the package of a scientist, right? Because scientists can so often be so literal.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 13:01
Michelle Khouri 13:02
And that’s part of what science requires. And yet the artistry is clear. When you look at your work, you represent the concept through a feeling.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 13:11
I think it comes from my dance background because we are so often asked to embody a feeling.
Michelle Khouri 13:17
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 13:18
And you know, as a dancer, you’re like, “Okay, so I’m going to try.”
Michelle Khouri 13:24
So what’s the choreography? (laughter)
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 13:27
But, you know, as you kind of mature and develop as a dancer, you start to really understand it’s about story. And it’s about you know, even before you step on that stage, like, where’s your character come from? Who is this person? And it’s about movement as well. And I think a lot of my work looks like an explosion of color and, in many cases, joy. I think you can always find the light in even the darkest of topics, or the most confusing of topics.
Michelle Khouri 13:57
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 13:58
It’s really about shining a light on the stuff that matters. I feel like a lot of the graphic work, since we’re talking about it, often is like you caught these figures or you caught this scene in a split second. It’s like a snapshot of something incredible happening. It captures people. And yes, my hope is to, with that, pique people’s curiosity.
Michelle Khouri 14:24
Yes. Oh my god. That’s beautiful. By the way, is that your husband in the background?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 14:28
Yeah. Sorry. Co-working so hard.
Michelle Khouri 14:33
In quarantine, but also you’re like a year into your marriage, right?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 14:37
That’s right. And we got married in Atlanta.
Michelle Khouri 14:39
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 14:40
In a science museum. It was so fun.
Michelle Khouri 14:42
Wait, which one? Fernbank?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 14:43
Oh, at Fernbank. Yeah.
Michelle Khouri 14:44
Oh my god. That’s amazing. Alright. Well, you know for those who can hear that is the beloved groom. So hi, groom. Um, I mean it is joy. The colors you use, the shapes, there is a fluidity to your design work. Taking it a little bit further back. Did you ever have a family member who experienced any kind of neurological disease?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 15:10
More psychological versus actually cellular damage. But you know, we all experience damage to our brain, even if we’re fully functional till the day we pass. And I think what was so interesting in the research that we were doing at the lab was that this is kind of gross, so I apologize.
Michelle Khouri 15:30
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 15:31
But when we autopsied folks’ brains, sometimes we would see the same level of damage in two brains. But one person physiologically, and in terms of mental capacity was pretty much with it until the day they passed. And we wondered, why is that? You know? What are the protective measures that perhaps this person had taken to fortify their brains so that their brains could rewire around the parts of damage and essentially be fully functional. I think our brains are amazing.
Michelle Khouri 16:04
What’s your favorite part of the brain?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 16:05
I think my favorite part of the brain is the amygdala because it governs your fight or flight response. Fear can be such a driver but also it can be such a hindrance. And it’s just a very complex and complicated part of the brain that I have a love-hate relationship with. I was a very timid child which you would not expect from the kind of adult that I am. There aren’t very many things that I do that are quiet and shy anymore. But you know, it took a lot of time to truly understand why I was being quiet and shy and it was a fear of failure. When I was growing up, a nickname of mine was Miss perfect because I got good grades. I was always teacher’s pet. I was like that annoying kid that killed every curve. And I was most often the only person of color in the room. So it was, it was challenging, I think. And I think I had a turning point when I got injured because it was this realization that no matter how much you plan for your life, no matter how many things you do that are in accordance with that plan, life can just hit you in the face. And it’s going to do what it’s going to do. And at that moment, I decided that, you know what, what’s the point of being scared?
Michelle Khouri 17:45
How did you get there? That’s a really life-altering moment for you.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 17:50
I think, in many ways, I had already been feeling like the path that I was on was a bit of a drain. And I will was continually pushing through things that I didn’t necessarily enjoy, but perhaps I was good at. So I think embracing what you love and embracing the truest form of yourself is hard because there’s societal pressure there is familial pressure, your own vision for your life and yourself. And sometimes we outgrow those stories and that process of shedding is hard. But so important,
Michelle Khouri 18:30
So important, and also brave. Anyone who’s a high achiever has been through that. I certainly have.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 18:37
Michelle Khouri 18:37
And you can’t actually create the juicy stuff. The crazy, crazy stuff, like makes our world interesting, unless you’ve shed that need to be perfect. You can’t make those things if you’re afraid of failure.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 18:53
Oh, that is so true.
Michelle Khouri 18:57
They are experiments, right? Even in science, you risk failure, right?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 19:02
Absolutely. And I think we can all take inspiration from scientists in that way, as creatives, because they never go in thinking, this will be just perfect. They always go in thinking, you know what, this is a huge gamble, but we’re going to spend millions of dollars on this huge gamble and see what comes out. I’m like, yeah, let’s do that.
Michelle Khouri 19:23
And no matter what the answer is, you’ve won because you’ve won an answer, right?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 19:28
I mean, to me, it’s a little different because funding structures and all that, but…
Michelle Khouri 19:33
Right. So you’re saying I’m over simplifying the very complex scientific industry? (Laughter)
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 19:40
But, I mean, just even finding support for your work, right? I feel very grateful that I do explore a variety of disciplines and a variety of subjects. So I’m able to garner support for my work in a variety of different areas, which helps me diversify and find funding for all of these big initiatives that I start and I dream up. I am in the rare lucky position that scientific and technological institutions often fund my work, which means they get well-funded. So instead of, you know, getting a grant for four digits, I’m getting like a six digit grant for work. And that’s important to acknowledge.
Michelle Khouri 20:22
It’s very important to acknowledge but I also would argue that it’s not luck at all. It seems like you’ve really aligned with your purpose and you are aligned with your creative and ambitious truth. I mean, you’ve got a plethora of projects going on right now. Walk us through everything that you’ve got going on.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 20:41
Okay, so my ongoing project that celebrates badass women in STEM because I love them and believe they should continually be celebrated is called Beyond Curie. And it lives online. So you can always see it at beyondcurie.com. But for a long time, and probably forever, it will be shown at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. So they dedicated an entire east wing to it. I’m so grateful for their partnership.
Michelle Khouri 21:09
Oh my god! Congratulations.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 21:10
Thank you. And, you know, it’s like, before our global crisis, they were having over a million folks come through and see it every year. So I am, you know, counting down the days until it can reopen, and folks can come and enjoy that.
Michelle Khouri 21:28
What did that feel like?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 21:30
I think that touching people’s lives is the most important impact metric for me. Because you can get a bunch of glowing reviews, you can get written up in the press, you can get to exhibit in a fancy gallery, but that doesn’t mean you’ll touch someone’s life. There’s just a moment that I remember so vividly, actually, from another one of my projects. It was a solo exhibition called Connective Tissue, in a 4800 square foot space in Vegas. I was there for, I think, an artist talk. And this group of little girls came up to me and said, “You know, this is our first time at a museum, any kind of museum, and we were so excited to be able to touch and play with all the things and understand your thinking behind things. But also, we didn’t know that women could be scientists.”
Michelle Khouri 22:24
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 22:26
That just blew my mind. Of course, they’re from like, you know, small rural towns, but still, like the fact that they came to my show, the wonder that they experienced of all of these new and different ideas.
Michelle Khouri 22:40
You, like, without a doubt, changed their lives.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 22:43
Yeah! I’m so excited to see what they do now that they know. And now that they sort of have accessed their internal power.
Michelle Khouri 22:54
What I love about the butterfly effect and interconnectivity that is all of life is that even if they don’t become scientists, right? It doesn’t have to be such a one to one thing. All you’ve done is now plant a seed within them that they can plant and other people. So even as they’re talking to girlfriends, as they get older it’s like, well, have you ever thought about being a scientist? Have you ever thought about being a mathematician? You know? Those moments where all of a sudden they’re carrying on conversations with an expanded view because of you?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 23:24
Well, thank you for saying that. And I completely agree about conductivity and the butterfly effect. And my goal has never been to make more scientists, you know? I just want everyone to have a unique relationship with science. Because whatever that is, whether it’s, oh, I learned a fun fact, and I’ll tell a friend, or it’s, you know what, I’ve seen that this pathway is open to me and I’m going to pursue it. It’s all positive. Like, our scientific literacy is so low, and there’s such distrust of science and scientists. It’s like why people don’t walk around with masks. And masks themselves have become incredibly politicized.
Michelle Khouri 24:05
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 24:06
Michelle Khouri 24:06
Everything is. We’re in an absolute moment of bubbling over division, I believe to be a pendulum swing moment, because I’m optimistic. Realistic optimist, but an optimist.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 24:19
As am I.
Michelle Khouri 24:20
And I do think that we needed this bubbling over. But it must be difficult for you and for other scientists, especially those who are not in the thick of it, to observe this and be like, “The amount of work that we do to bring you good information and you’re over here like, nah, my freedom!”
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 24:40
Yeah, exactly. But I think this is in many ways why I have shifted over the years from focusing on translating complex science to sparking wonder in science.
Michelle Khouri 24:55
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 24:56
Because I think that’s important. I think, you know, you have to meet people they are. And as I’ve done the work I’ve learned from putting in front of different audiences how the science communication community is often an echo chamber. It’s like, yeah, everyone here cares about science and they love it. Of course, they’re gonna get what you’re saying, and they’re going to be all about it. But what about everyone else? Can I create parallels that they can access and they can relate to? So a new project that I’m tackling is a mural series across the United States that celebrates women in science, and is going to be AR enabled, so that in case you can’t go to the mural itself, because, hey, we’re in a pandemic, you can see it in AR in your classroom, in your home, wherever you are.
Michelle Khouri 25:44
Oh my God.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 25:45
I’m working with this condensed matter physicist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She’s amazing. Her name is Nadia Mason, look her up.
Michelle Khouri 25:54
I will. Physicists are like my celebrities. My superheroes.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 25:59
And she’s so chill. And honestly, all the scientists that I am collaborating with are so chill and so cool. And you would never know how superstar level they are in their field because of how humble and down to earth and wonderful they are as humans. A couple weeks ago, we got on the phone and we’re like, okay, we’re going to create this mural, but I need a story that will help people access your work. So I threw out some stuff about electron orbitals and how they might come together. And she was like, “No, no, no, no. When electrons are in their orbitals, they’re kind of inert, in a way. They can’t really, kind of, touch each other and create any kind of magic, but when they break out of those orbitals, they create this sort of like magical seed that can conduct electricity.” And I was like, oh my God, the electrons are women. Women who break beyond the bounds, reach out for each other, connect with each other and then make magic. That’s the metaphor.
Michelle Khouri 26:56
Oh my god. Amazing.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 26:59
So you know, these these moments of conversation where I’m just like, yes, that’s the thing.
Michelle Khouri 27:06
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 27:07
It’s just a feeling of excitement and joy when, you know, we can come together from different perspectives, from different fields, and just align on a story that is so universal. It’s like universal from the perspective of, yeah, like, the stuff that she studies, that’s why you have a phone, and you can, you know, use it all the time. Like, that’s her research right there. But also just the women that uphold our society, you know, they just keep shit running. They’re kind of like dark matter, you never see them, but without them, the galaxy would just spin out.
Michelle Khouri 27:42
Yes. And that’s where your artistic brain comes in, in these conversations, to interpret in a more abstract way. Okay, so this mural project, what is it called?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 27:54
It’s called Findings. So I’m partnering with the Heising-Simons Foundation. And they’re this wonderful group of people who fund everything from social justice to scientific research, specifically in the physical sciences. So think astrophysicists.
Michelle Khouri 28:12
Oh god, I love them.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 28:12
Astronomers, climate scientists, oceanographers, you know, just like very interesting in the field science oftentimes. And, God, these women are so badass and cool. I I specifically asked to work only with women grantees.
Michelle Khouri 28:29
Oh my god, I love you.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 28:32
Because I’m just like, you know what, there’s been enough celebration of, you know, the typical white male scientists that we know and celebrate and have celebrated for generations. It’s time for this new crowd to shine.
Michelle Khouri 28:50
Yes, yes. I completely agree with you. Wow. Wow. Wow. So you have foundation support?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 28:56
Yes. And we are finding locations in different cities. So we’re looking at New York City, of course. I’m pushing for Brooklyn. I know we’re definitely going to San Diego. That’s where one of my lovely climate scientists is based. Her name is Fiamma Straneo. Oh, I may be butchering her last name. I feel really bad. But she is absolutely, like a superstar in her field. And what she does is study this fjord in Greenland. So in this fjord, she’s studying the relationship between the ice sheet and the sea. And, you know, as she was talking about this research, I was like, you know, I feel like it’s like the ice and the sea, are these two forces that are having a conversation, but you can’t tell what they’re saying. And you’re trying to understand what they’re saying so that you can extrapolate a broader and more accurate climate model for our whole planet. She’s like, “Yeah, that’s that’s basically it.” And I was like, “Oh my God, that’s it. That’s what I’m going to make an image of.”
Michelle Khouri 29:59
God, that’s amazing.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 30:01
I’m so excited for folks to experience not only the imagery, but also the story behind you know how she goes into the poles, and then she hires this fisherman’s boat, goes out, you know, into the icy water, into the fjord and collects measurements. And you know, there’s just like, you know, ice falling, you don’t know if the boat’s going to tip over the. The weather might be bad. There’s just, like, so much drama. Honestly.
Michelle Khouri 30:30
She needs a show.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 30:31
National Geographic and, you know, PBS, Scientific America, they’ve all shot her work. So she’s, yeah, yeah, I mean, she’s out there. She’s out there.
Michelle Khouri 30:41
She’s had cameras around.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 30:43
Yeah, she’s had cameras around.
Michelle Khouri 30:44
So how many murals are you going to end up doing, in different cities?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 30:48
We’re thinking six to 10 but you know, things could change depending on funding and of course COVID and all of this.
Michelle Khouri 30:56
What else do you have going on right now?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 30:58
I think a lot of artists myself included are essentially shifting their perspective on how their work lives in the world because of COVID. Because, you know, a lot of galleries are not open. At least for myself, I’m focusing more on public art, there’s just more accessibility. It’s not gated. It is part of the infrastructure of a city and a community. And I really love that aspect of it.
Michelle Khouri 31:23
I’m finding my joy more than ever, through artists like you. And, or, learning, you know, like, people exchanging anti-racist learnings, or education, or finally speaking out against white supremacy and the patriarchy. And that brings me joy too.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 31:41
Yes, it’s totally joyous. And I think the arts community, in order to thrive, needs all kinds, you know? Not just artists. We need allies and champions and we need everyone.
Michelle Khouri 31:52
We need everyone who’s in this world.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 31:54
I’m grateful for folks like you who believe in the arts. You are creative, uplift other creatives specifically, you know, people of color and women. We love to see it.
Michelle Khouri 32:06
Yeah, I agree. And I appreciate your focus on joy as well. So why don’t you tell us where we can find out more about you and connect with you online?
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 32:16
Of course, so you can follow me on Instagram @alonglastname. Just spell that out alonglastname. It’s also my handle on Twitter. And you can also find me at alonglastname.com, which is my website.
Michelle Khouri 32:34
I love how easy you make that and it’s smart.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 32:37
You know, here’s the thing about long last names for Thai folks. I recently found out that we have long last names and unique long last names because we just want to have unique last names. Like, in Thailand you just kind of like change a couple letters if you find out that someone else has your last name. You really like tack on stuff and you’re like, our neighbors have our same last name. No, no, no, that can’t be.
Michelle Khouri 33:00
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 33:00
We’re, you know, we’re going to add some syllables to it.
Michelle Khouri 33:04
I had no idea. And that is such an interesting approach because I’ve actually never heard of a culture that is like, about creativity and being like a unique set of people on this planet, which is dope.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 33:17
You know, honestly, even if that is not the true reason, I love this explanation.
Michelle Khouri 33:22
Let’s just make a true.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 33:24
Michelle Khouri 33:25
Thank you so much, Amanda. This has been a true honor and a privilege and a joy. So thank you for being on Cultured.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 33:33
It has been such a joy to talk to you. I could keep this convo going, honestly. If I didn’t have other meetings today, we would still be on.
Michelle Khouri 33:41
100%. In fact, I should just cut it here and just we’ll pretend like we went on for three more hours.
Well, my brain feels bigger thanks to this conversation. So thank you, Amanda. We love you. And I love you, Cultured Crew. Until next time, you know what to do. Keep it classy. Keep it curious. Keep it Cultured.