Who Gets to Be a Visionary?

We Should Talk’s newest art installation, Good Fortunes, by Asian American artist Xena Ni explores this question at the Heurich House Museum this May.

This May, during AAPI Heritage month, artist Xena Ni will transform the Heurich House Museum into a portal to the future with her interactive art installation, Good Fortunes. Travel to the future with visionary Asian Americans and return with reasons for hope in the present. Good Fortunes is the second installment of the We Should Talk series, a participatory installation that invites you to join visionary Asian American womxn in imagining and shaping the future, created by Philippa Pham Hughes, Adele Yiseol Kenworthy, and Xena Ni. 

Good Fortunes asks you to embody the simple and expansive answer to these two questions:

  • Who gets to be thought of as a visionary? Everyone, including you.
  • Who gets to flourish in the future? Everyone, including you.

Despite different origins and family fortunes (literal and metaphorical), artist Xena Ni and brewer Christian Heurich’s migration journeys and ability to make their lives anew in the US echo one another.

Heurich was a German immigrant who naturalized as a US citizen. Ni is a Chinese immigrant who spent formative time in Germany and naturalized as a US citizen. From 1894-1956, when the museum was the Heurich family’s residence, Chinese people were excluded from the US due to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Despite a short era of anti-German sentiment during WWI, Germans never experienced a US immigration ban. Ni immigrated from China to the US in 1991, a century after the Heurich House was built and just 26 years after the ending of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

For the last decade the Heurich House Museum’s work has explored the American Experience with the goal of interpreting history more holistically and equitably while also connecting to the modern world. 

May you flourish in many futures.

May many futures flourish because of you.

Visit Good Fortunes

Friday, May 3, 6-8pm 

Explore the installation on the first floor of the house then head into the garden to shop from local AAPI makers and grab a local craft beverage from the museum’s biergarten.

Info + RSVP

Friday, May 10, 5-8PM

With Curator/We Should Talk creator Philippa Hughes.

Info + RSVP

Wednesday, May 15, 4-8PM

The Museum's month craft station will feature DIY good luck charms. Please note the installation will not be on view during this event.

Info + RSVP

Saturday, May 18, 1-4PM

A celebration of our collective wishes for the future, featuring lion dancers at 2PM and informal Q+A with the artist Xena Ni.

Info + RSVP

Friday, May 31, 5-8PM

Explore the art installation during an open house.

Info + RSVP

Thursdays - Saturdays

The art installation will be on display for visitors during the museum’s regular tourhours Thursday through Saturday.

Book a Tour

About Good Fortunes:

Enter a portal to the future made from mailboxes and cascades of red strings and bells. Inside one of the mailboxes is a message for you – a gift from the future sent to you by the visionary artists and organizers who traveled to the future with Xena to show you that America is still full of possibility, its future still able to be shaped by your hopes, visions, and actions. 

Your gift might contain a glimpse of a future technology, a mysterious scent, or a plantable seed. Your gift will include an invitation to write your own wish for the future and to send it to the future by ringing the portal bells. Good Fortunes opens on May 3rd and closes on May 31st, with programming throughout the month of May. As visitors leave their own wishes for the future, Good Fortunes will grow into a vessel for sharing hope, curiosity, and dialogue about every person’s role in shaping the future.

About We Should Talk:

We Should Talk is a series of art installations and programming powered by Asian American Womxn. Led by artist and curator Philippa Pham Hughes, and artists Xena Ni and Adele Yiseol Kenworthy, We Should Talk creates space for exploring the complexity of Asian American identity. We Should Talk received federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and the American Women’s History Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

WE Should Talk artists

Xena Ni (She/Her)

Xena Ni is a Washington, DC-based artist, time traveler, and designer who uses public archives and interactive experiences to uplift stories obscured by history, policy, and neglect. She believes that public institutions should work with and for the people they serve. To that end, she creates multimedia installations and interactive experiences to advocate for humane, equitable, and just public policies. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, Washingtonian, and Bloomberg.

Her participatory installations ask penetrating questions about public benefits, the arbitrariness of government policies, and the role luck plays in American lives.

More about Xena
Philippa Pham Hughes (She/Her)

Philippa Pham Hughes is a Social Sculptor, Cultural Strategist, Curator, Visiting Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, and Resident Artist at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. She applies relational thinking and an aesthetic of care and delight to her work in democracy building, civic engagement, and repairing the social fabric of our country one creative conversation at a time. Philippa draws from the arts and humanities to design spaces for honest conversations across political, social, and cultural differences. She has produced hundreds of creative activations since 2007 for people who might not normally meet to engage with one another in unconventional and meaningful ways.

More about Philippa
Adele 이슬 Kenworthy (She/They)

Adele Yiseol Kenworthy is an artist organizer and her vulnerability is her superpower. She explores how flowers have dyed, draped, and nourished social movements; what it means for socially engaged art to exist as an embodied practice of care; and tends the spaces of cultural memory and art as reimagined heritage work.

Adele was in the inaugural cohort of the M.F.A. in Social Practice Art at the Corcoran School of Art and Design. In 2022, she was invited to the Washington Project for the Arts Artist Organizer Spring Residency and Transformer’s Exercises for Emerging Artists Program.

More about Adele