Asian American Modernism
This collection is meant to build on two earlier collections, "Asian American Art: Emerging from the Shadows" and "Asian American Artists and World War II" 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 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's exhibition catalog "Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970" (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 Artists and World War II" 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.
As Gordon H. Chang and Mark Dean Johnson state in the introduction of the exhibition catalog, "Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970" (2008):
"Forty years ago there were no Asian Americans. There were Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and others of Asian ancestry in the United States, but no 'Asian Americans,' as that term was coined only in 1968. This population was commonly seen as foreign, alien, not of America. Their lives and experiences were not generally accepted as part of the fabric of the country, even though Asians had begun settling here steadily in the mid-nineteenth century.
Then, in the late 1960s, as part of the upsurge in the self-assertion of marginalized communities, 'Asian America' emerged to challenge the stigma of perpetual foreignness. 'Asian American' was a claim of belonging, of rootedness, of pride and identity, and of history and community; it was also a recognition of distinctive cultural achievement" (Chang, Johnson, 2008).