'Finally people are listening to our voices': RTP mural celebrates Asian immigration and innovation

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Friday, July 30, 2021
Boxyard RTP mural celebrates Asian immigration and innovation
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Gabe Eng-Goetz, the artist behind the mural up adorning Boxyard RTP, was inspired by his own family's history of immigration.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A mural adorning Boxyard RTP celebrates Asian immigration and innovation.

Durham artist Gabe Eng Goetz, 35, was inspired by his own family's history while painting. Goetz, himself, is Chinese American and decided to share his story to inspire others

"As I get older and learned more about my family history, I interact and befriend more Asians in the area, I just feel more and more Asian as time goes on, it's just a fantastic experience," said Goetz. "As culture shifts in light of everything going on with xenophobia and hate crimes against Asians across the country, more and more people are listening to the voices of Asian people. I would love to channel that energy through art and that's what I'm trying to do here."

According to Goetz, the piece represents all immigrants in the area. It's a familiar story to him as his family immigrated here years ago.

"My ancestors came here at the end of the 1800s right before the Chinese Exclusion Act. They were growing Chinese vegetables in Jacksonville, Florida and shipping them up to NYC to sell in Chinatown markets," said Goetz. "They eventually settled in Washington D.C. My mother and father came to Durham where she's a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in Public Health."

The mural is vibrant with images of a phoenix and dragon, which are significant symbols in east-Asian culture.

"The dragon and phoenix are symbols of harmony and good fortune. Both are extremely important when it comes to being an entrepreneur," said Goetz. "This entire space is housing young, diverse entrepreneurs who are really putting their passion forward. Looking back on my ancestor's history, that's exactly what they were doing as well. They were being entrepreneurs in the food space, something they knew well and that they could find a niche in here in America."