Drue Kataoka’s art has made it to collections in 30 countries — and even the International Space Station. Now the artist, activist and current face of Clubhouse’s app icon is releasing her first NFT to support Asian American causes. The auction will begin on digital art marketplace Nifty Gateway at 1:30 p.m. EST, May 13, along with a launch party on Clubhouse, and run for 24 hours. Nifty Gateway is waiving its auction fees, and all proceeds will go to the Catalyst Fund for Justice (CFJ), the grant-making arm of Stand with Asian Americans, a coalition of business leaders and activists partnered with the Asian Pacific Fund.
Kataoka is known for commissioned artworks like mirror-polished steel sculptures and art that uses virtual reality, EEG and mobile technology. One of her pieces, “Up!,” created with Sumi-e ink on mounted rice paper, was part of the first zero-gravity art exhibit at the International Space Station. She is also an activist and organizer, and has raised a total of almost $300,000 through Clubhouse for #StopAsianHate, #Clubhouse4India and #24HoursofLove for The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the nonprofit started in 1968 by Coretta Scott King.
Called “In the Club: #StopAsianHate,” Kataoka’s NFT was inspired by activist communities on Clubhouse, where Kataoka leads the Art Club, one of the app’s biggest art groups with 102,000 followers.
“I’ve been passionate about leveraging Clubhouse as a medium for social change,” Kataoka said. For this project, “we want to fire on all cylinders, not just only philanthropy or not just only art, but both of those at the highest level to really serve a goal and create the most impact that we possibly can for the Asian American community.”
Kataoka is the founder and chief executive officer of Drue Kataoka Studios, which creates pieces that bring together influences from Zen Buddhism, her training in Sumi-e ink painting and Silicon Valley. Instead of art school, Kataoka went to Stanford University because she wanted to learn about tech, like virtual and augmented reality, how to code and business fundamentals.
“My mantra for the past 20 years has been that art is technology and technology is art,” she told TechCrunch.
For her “genesis drop,” or first NFT release, Kataoka wanted “to be very thoughtful about the first project I did, and I’m excited that it will be this one. I’ve been watching the space very carefully and I am very bullish on crypto and NFTs. I know there’s a lot of volatility and many things that will fall away and not stand the test of time, but ultimately as a mechanism for creativity and so many important things, this will be the way of the future.”
— Drue Kataoka 🌎 (@DrueKataoka) May 12, 2021
Eric Kim, co-chair of Stand with Asian Americans’ Catalyst Fund for Justice, said “the fact that Drue is willing to donate 100% of the proceeds to go towards the AAPI community is really, really meaningful. I think it’s also a beautiful expression of blockchain technology.”
Kim, who is also co-founder and managing partner of venture firm Goodwater Capital, added, “I’ve been searching for the best product market fit of the blockchain and through this project — digital art being captured, codified, securitized in non-fungible tokens, and then being utilized for the community, launched on Clubhouse even, and auctioned through a platform like Nifty Gateway — it is one of the best applications of blockchain I’ve ever seen and an amazing coordination of multiple consumer tech platforms.”
About one-minute long, “In the Club: #StopAsianHate” features an image of a…