Shin Maeng and Sarah Shin are gifted artists and conveyors of God’s heart for justice. They both graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and now live with their baby girl in Scotland. Sarah also served as Associate National Director of Evangelism with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) and is the author of Beyond Colorblind. We wanted to share this beautiful piece of art that was inspired by Sarah’s poem, which capture the pain and also hope within generations of those in the Asian community, a powerful piece for reflection during this Holy Week.
“American 한 (Han)” by Shin Happens.
“Beyond Invisible” by Sarah Shin
The tears were always there.
You just didn’t recognize my face.
Nor did you see behind the hunched back of the one doing your nails
The steel frame of a mother feeding her family with 14 hour work days.
Instead of seeing in our bodies and our face
The altar of the broken faithful awaiting resurrection
You make them instead into a graveyard for your sins.
But some habits just die hard, huh?
Inconvenient convenience it would be
To behold in a flattened story
The freedom-fighters who battled war, demagogues, oceans, and despair
And tore themselves from everything they knew to be home
The heartache of sacrificing family past to give family future a chance.
Anchors they have served to be as we strive to make this home
But cut into them and you’ve cut loose
Everything that told us to bear it
Everything that said hope was worth it
To swallow tears and keep our heads down.
No more now.
Our dams are broke and now they flood
All around you, all around me.
Do you see beyond just my face now?
Do you see beyond what you didn’t see in my eyes now?
Do you see me
Can you see me
Can you see me now?
Explanation of the imagery (from Shin)
I am Korean American. Historically, cream-white was the robe of mourning worn by Koreans at funerals, and that is what the woman at the top is wearing over my take on a han-bok. There are lamenting faces woven into the collar of her robe. Her arms are outstretched around her mother, who bears the traditional hairstyle of Korean queens in days past. (“Ma Ma” ironically means your majesty in Korean.) The 할머니 (grandmother) wears the gold-red robes that were only reserved for kings, a rightful honoring of her womanhood and protest against the invalidation, misogyny, and oppression so many Korean and Asian women by their own brothers and fathers. My wife and I grew up with Asian women pastors and leaders. We honor you. The grandmother has her arms outstretched around her granddaughter, who holds a cup full of the tears that flow down her mother’s face, down her 할머니’s face, and cascades out as they are poured onto the ground. There are no tears on the little one’s face which looks up with hope, but the tears are an offering of prayer, pain, and love, the love of mothers who sacrifice for the sake of their future families. It is a plea and prayer for help, of women of faith who have kept the family knit together in their persevering and too-often suffering love.
If you want to support Shin’s art go to
From now until the month of April, Shin will be donating the proceeds of selling this piece to two organizations: StopAAPIHate and Asian American Christian Collaborative. These offer helpful resources for reporting and resisting the anti-Asian racism we are seeing and to helping Asian-American mobilize towards faith-based action against racism.