News / USA

    Asian-American Artists Explore Their Identity

    Smithsonian exhibit examines what it means to be an Asian-American

    'Shimomura Crossing the Delaware' is a knock-off of the iconic 19th century painting, 'Washington Crossing the Delaware.'
    'Shimomura Crossing the Delaware' is a knock-off of the iconic 19th century painting, 'Washington Crossing the Delaware.'

    What does it mean to be Asian-American? An exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington features the work of seven Asian-American artists who attempt to address that complex question through their art.

    The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program have joined together to mount a major exhibit showcasing the work of seven Asian-American artists.

    Each piece in the “Asian American Portraits of Encounter” exhibit is an expression by the artist of what it means to be Asian-American.  

    Each of the artists was given an entire exhibit room, or hallway, in which to display their work, which includes photographs, drawings, paintings and even a short video.

    One of those artists is Roger Shimomura.The third-generation Japanese-American has spent his career fighting racial stereotypes through his art.

    He has paintings featured in the exhibit, in which his own image takes center stage.

    He describes "Shimomura Crossing the Delaware" as a knock-off of the iconic 19th century painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” which depicts the first U.S. president at a historic moment during the American Revolution.

    “The idea was to place myself as George Washington and hopefully raise all the questions that would go along with it, such as, ‘What if Japanese-Americans were in a position in this country where one might have been George Washington?’ I mean, that is such a stretch to think of that. But I like the absurdity of that extreme.”

    The painting is part of a series born out of Shimomura's experience of being relocated with his family to an internment camp during World War II, when it was argued that Japanese-Americans were a threat to the nation.

    'StripeTease' by Tam Tran explores the artist's changing relationship to her own developing identity.
    'StripeTease' by Tam Tran explores the artist's changing relationship to her own developing identity.

    “It’s really insulting to a person like myself who spent two years behind barbed wires during World War II, and who served in the military for several years, to be assumed as being a foreigner,” he says

    Shizu Saldamando was born and raised in California but her art makes strong references to her Japanese and Mexican heritage; two ethnic groups which have faced discrimination.

    In her series of portraits, the mixed-media artist has combined photographic images of her friends taken during casual social situations and presented them on a gold leaf background on wood panels to create a unique body of work.

    She hopes that people viewing her art, “will question what they see as normal, and question their own stereotypes or assumptions about who they see in the paintings.”

    Fine art photographer CYJO was born in Seoul, South Korea, was raised in the U.S. and is now based primarily in Beijing. She is a self-described Kyopo - the Korean term for ethnic Koreans living in other countries.

    In 2004, she started photographing Koreans from all around the world. Two hundred forty full-body portraits make up CYJO’S KYOPO Project which is on display at the exhibit. Sixty of the images are enlarged and displayed individually.

    Actor Daniel Dae Kim's portrait by CYJO, is one of 240 full-body portraits of Koreans from all over the world.
    Actor Daniel Dae Kim's portrait by CYJO, is one of 240 full-body portraits of Koreans from all over the world.

    Zhang Chun Hong, or Hong Zhang as she is known in the United States, is a Chinese-born artist living and working in the U.S. She uses charcoal images of long, straight hair, presented as scroll paintings, to examine her identity as an Asian-American woman.

    Several artists in the exhibit focus on the challenges of transitioning from Asia to America.

    Performance artist Hye Yeon Nam who came to the U.S. from Korea to study art, depicts that struggle in a four-part video self-portrait titled "Walking, Drinking, Eating, and Sitting," where everyday functions are major challenges.

    Chinese-born artist Hong Zhang's charcoal images of long, straight hair, examine her identity as an Asian-American woman.
    Chinese-born artist Hong Zhang's charcoal images of long, straight hair, examine her identity as an Asian-American woman.

    Satomi Shirai’s photographs reflect the feelings of dislocation she experienced after her move from Japan to New York City in 2004.

    And Tam Tran, who moved from South Vietnam with her family to Memphis, Tennessee, in the early 1990s, explores her ever-changing relationship to her own developing identity in a series of self-portrait photographs called Accents.

    Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American program, says the exhibit is not designed to make visitors arrive at any particular conclusion but rather to serve as a conversation starter:

    “This show is a terrific opportunity for people who want to understand what an Asian-American portrait of encounter would feel, sound like in some instances, and have that experience, and then walk away from that, hopefully transformed and asking more questions about that topic,” he says.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora