Asian American Artists and World War II
This collection is meant to build on "Asian American Art: Emerging from the Shadows" and to introduce the viewer to artists of Asian ancestry in America using Chang, Johnson & Karlstrom's text, Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 (2008), the vast resources of the Smithsonian Learning Lab, Project Zero's Global Thinking Routines and other resources. This collection is part two of four that I have organized, chronologically, on Asian American Art. The other three collections are "Asian American Art: Emerging from the Shadows", "Asian American Modernism" and "Asian American Contemporary Art". It is my hope that these collections will serve as entry points to understanding the many contributions of Asian American artists in the U.S. from 1850 until the present time.
Visual art is a language that is socially and culturally constructed. Socially constructed learning values diverse perspectives, engages with local and global experts, and employs inquiry, discovery and exploration to move students toward global citizenship. Because the visual arts leverage the power of dialogue and debate to sharpen critical thinking, starting with the arts is a logical place to help students develop cultural intelligence.
Other purposes of these collections are to explore tangible and intangible cultural heritage; as well as jumpstart brave conversations about race, identity and immigration in the U.S. with teachers, tutors of English Language Learners and others who are interested in becoming cultural leaders in our public schools.
"In the years before the American entry into World War II, many Chinese American artists, moved by the death and destruction caused by the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s, depicted Japanese military atrocities in their artwork. Yun Gee, Kem Lee, Nanying Stella Wong, and David P. Chun, among others, created anguishing images of Chinese suffering and Japanese military brutality. These powerful images, though, had limited impact on the greater American public, whose attention was elsewhere. Japanese American artists such as Hideo Date, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Isamu Noguchi also used their talents to condemn European and Japanese fascism and encourage American support for the Chinese victims of Japanese aggression. But it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that established the indelible connection between art, race, and war for these and other Asian American artists." (Chang, Johnson, Karlstrom, 2008).
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