8 AAPI Artists Worked Together to Depict the Diversity of L.A.'s Asian Neighborhoods — See the Photos

There are eight Asian neighborhoods in L.A., and this piece of art spotlights all of them.

A group wearing the AAPI T-Shirts from Combap Mart in LA
Photo: Hilary Kempkers/Courtesy of Combap Mart

With nearly 30 percent of the Asian American population — about 6.7 million people in 2019, according to Pew Research Center — living in California, Los Angeles is home to some of the most diverse AAPI enclaves. To celebrate the communities, online shop Combap Mart called on eight artists to depict the spirit of each on a new L.A. Neighborhoods t-shirt the company debuted for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

"We wanted to celebrate the diverse Asian American diaspora that can be found all around L.A.," Combap Mart co-founders Chau Hoang and Hilary Kempkers said in a statement sent to Travel + Leisure. "We reached out to Asian American artists to create a unique illustration that shares their background of being Vietnamese, Bangladeshi, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Cambodian, and Thai Americans."

The front of AAPI T-Shirts from Combap Mart in LA
Hilary Kempkers/Courtesy of Combap Mart

On the front of the shirt is simply the word "Here," while the back continues the phrase with "Everywhere," along with the eight drawings. Brooklyn's Lanny Ho depicted Little Saigon, while San Francisco's Anika Zaman drew Little Bangladesh, San Francisco's Seesha Takagishi drew Little Tokyo, Portland's Mary Vertulfo drew Historic Filipinotown, L.A.'s Kate Marley drew Koreatown, L.A.'s Dolly Li drew Chinatown, Long Beach's Caroline Quach drew Cambodia Town, and L.A.'s Cartoon Chuersanga drew Thai Town.

Quach was taken by the fact that she often finds the people that her mother and grandmother chat with while they're in Cambodia Town are ones they know from refugee camps. "I found it fascinating and touching that their connection had transcended country and camp borders and followed them all the way to SoCal, so I made this illustration based on that," she said in an interview published on Combap Mart's website.

Meanwhile, Ho said he was inspired by the gate to Little Saigon "welcoming all visitors in with its beauty," while Marley went with her favorite aisle in Korean grocery stores with the kimchi and banchan to inform her illustration. "There is something so aesthetically pleasing and comforting to me about the refrigerated sections of my store, and as a Korean-American adoptee, this aisle reminds me the most that 'I belong' or 'I fit in,'" she said.

The back of AAPI T-Shirts from Combap Mart in LA
Hilary Kempkers/Courtesy of Combap Mart

Hoang and Kempkers say that the diversity of the enclaves in the area is meant to reflect the AAPI community nationwide. "While LA is unique in the concentration of these neighborhoods, you can find these neighborhoods and experiences all across the country," they said. "We are here in L.A. and everywhere in the U.S."

The $34 shirt comes in five sizes and can be purchase online at Combap Mart's site.

Combap Mart was started last year as an Asian American mini mart selling products from AAPI makers, including food staples, home goods, and kitchen and dining essentials. The name is a combination of the words for rice in Vietnamese (com) and Korean (bap), the staple of Asian cuisines across the board. They also host pop-up markets at Blossom Market Hall in San Gabriel, California, including an AAPI Heritage Month event on May 7 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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