Found 13,088 Resources containing: Asian Americans
To become a writer, Yiyun Li left behind everything familiar: her birth country (China), her first language (Mandarin), her family...
The post Author Interview: Yiyun Li [in Asian American Literary Review] appeared first on BookDragon.
Back in 1944, Chinese-American comic book artist Chu Hing created a superhero named the Green Turtle, who appeared in five issues of Blazing Comics before disappearing into the night. There were rumors that Hing intended The Green Turtle to be the first Asian-American superhero, but was prevented by his publisher. So in 2014, cartoonist Gene Luen Yang and illustrator Sonny Liew resurrected The Green Turtle, definitively establishing his Chinese-American backstory in a graphic novel called The Shadow Hero. Now, in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Green Turtle has returned and is starring in his own comic book, reports Charles Pulliam-Moore at i09.
According to a press release, the comic is being distributed at Panda Express restaurants along with the kid’s meals, or it can be read online here. “Sonny and I are so excited to work with Panda Express. Together, we created 'Shadow Hero Comics #1' to celebrate not just Asian Pacific American heroes, but all of the heroes in our lives,” Yang says in the press release. “A hero can be anyone who inspires us to never give up. We hope stories like ours will encourage young readers to embrace their own originality and never give up on themselves, no matter what the odds may be.”
Hansi Lo Wang at NPR reports that there were rumors that when Hing originally created the Green Turtle, he intended the character to be Chinese-American. But his publisher didn’t think readers would appreciate an Asian character while the U.S. was in the midst of a war with Japan. While the characters skin was printed in eraser-pink, Yang tells Wang that there are clues in the original comics that the Green Turtle was of Asian ancestry. “He almost always has his back turned toward the audience, so all you see is his cape,” Yang says. “When he is turned around, something is blocking his face. It's either hidden by shadow, or he's punching and his arm is in the way. Or there's a piece of furniture in the way.”
The subject of those comics is also a clue—the Green Turtle leads a group of Chinese people against occupying Japanese forces. When he revived the character in 2014, Yang—a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient whose graphic novels, American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints were both nominated for the National Book Award—decided to give The Green Turtle an decisively Asian-American origin story. Pulliam-Moore reports that the characters's true identity is Hank Chu, a young man working in his family’s grocery store in the Chinatown of a fictional California city of San Incendio. While he doesn’t have super strength or the ability fly, The Green Turtle is able to dodge bullets and other projectiles.
Super heroes and their secret identities have long resonated with people from immigrant and minority families. That’s because, like super heroes, they must navigate different identities within the culture. “Every superhero has this superhero identity and a civilian identity,” Yang says. “A lot of their lives are about code switching. It’s about switching from one mode of expectations to another mode of expectations. And I really think that mirrors something in the immigrant's kid’s life.”
In the new comic book, The Green Turtle teams up with Miss Stardust, an alien from another planet who is also interested in protecting the citizens of San Incendio—and the Earth. The comic is set in the 1940s—during the golden age of comic books—and includes the kitschy villains of The Roller Rocket Gang, a squad of roller skating robbers.
“Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter“ seeks to explore what it means to be Asian in America through the works of CYJO, Hye Yeon Nam, Shizu Saldamando, Roger Shimomura, Satomi Shirai, Tam Tran and Zhang Chun Hong. The exhibit, a collaboration of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program (APAP), opened today, August 12, at the Portrait Gallery. Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, shared his insights on the show via e-mail.
What can the works in the show tell us about being Asian in America?
I think the works start conversations about what it means to be Asian in America rather than offer a definitive interpretation. Indeed, the show offers a cacophony of ways of being-in-the-world. If there is a common theme that unites the experience, I would say how they treat identity as a complex negotiation as opposed to a being given, that “I am definitively X.” The negotiation comes from how one can be rooted in a community, but not limited by it.
Is there a personal reason that you chose to explore the Asian American experience?
I appreciate good art and the show contains terrific work. The Portrait Gallery and my program the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program see the “Asian American experience” as a vehicle for showing how portraiture is a language and a story. These artists use the form to express their experience and by doing so, start conversations about what it means to be American, the dynamics of world cultures, and their intersection.
What is a “Portrait of Encounter”?
For me, a portrait of encounter conveys the forces at work in telling the story of identity, that is, how we work on finding balance during our negotiation of things like: what to wear, perceptions and self-perceptions, our sense of home, culture, or the expectations of heritage and gender.
The show contains a wide range of media and unique interpretations of portraiture. Which pieces are your favorites and what about them stand out to you?
It’s hard to pick one. As a scholar of cinema and digital media, I’m immediately drawn to Hye Yeon Nam’s work. I love the edginess of Saldamando’s works. CYJO’s photographs are engrossing. I love the messiness of Satomi Shirai’s photographs. The way that Tam Tran ties a sense of elasticity with her identity is great. The textures of Zhang Chun Hong’s work surprised me with its aggressiveness. Roger Shimomura finds a a productive balance between anger and playfulness.
The artists featured in the exhibit come from different Asian backgrounds as well as different geographic areas of the U.S. How important was representing the unique Asian cultures when putting together the show? How important was representing the unique U.S. regions?
The artists were selected from a general call for submissions. Together, the NPG and the APAP created a shortlist based on the caliber of work and how the work would fit in the larger experience of the exhibition. During the process, I wanted us to curate a set of encounters such that the journey for the viewer would be a transformation in their understanding of Asian America; not to arrive at a conclusion, but to start a conversation about that that means. I think we were able to do that.
“Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter” is open now through October 14, 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery.
View a gallery of the photos below.
Image by Image © Shizu Saldamando. Carm's Crew, 2009, Shizu Saldamando. Saldamando explains that her work “is an investigation into different social constructs and subcultures seen through backyard parties, dance clubs, music shows, hang-out spots, and art receptions.” (original image)
Image by Image © Tam Tran. Stripe Tease, 2009, Tam Tran. Tran says, in her artist’s statement, that her varied self-portraits seek to “take on multiple sets of identities that challenge viewers to decipher for themselves ‘Who am I?’” (original image)
Image by Flomenhaft Gallery, New York. Image © Roger Shimomura. American vs. Japs 2, 2010, Roger Shimomura. Shimomura responds to misconceptions of the Asian American community by “battling those stereotypes or, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, becoming those very same stereotypes” in his work. (original image)
Image by Image © Hong Chun Zhang. My Life Strands, 2009, Zhang Chun Hong. “According to Eastern culture,” explains Zhang “a young woman’s long hair is associated with life force, sexual energy, growth, and beauty… it has become a part of my identity.” (original image)
Image by Image © CYJO. Daniel Dae Kim, 2007, Cindy Hwang (a.k.a. CYJO). In her artist’s statement, CYJO writes, “I enjoy capturing both the silent, direct, and informational physiognomy of each individual and the textual portraits that are obtained through interviews.” (original image)
Image by Image © Hye Yeon Nam. Drinking (Self-Portrait), 2006, Hye Yeon Nam. “As a woman and a Korean immigrant in the United States,” Nam explains in her artist’s statement “I have struggled to adjust to my new culture… My work reflects my desire to resist such pressure by using physical dissonance to reveal different perspectives upon the ‘norm.’” (original image)
Exploring Asian American History with "I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story"
Tsutakawa speaks of his youth in Japan and Seattle, and the importance of a bicultural family and education on his development; the influence of European art magazines and American movies in Japan; family members who were influential; his early sculpture; Alexander Archipenko; the Asian art community in Seattle; teaching at the University of Washington School of Architecture; Bauhaus philosophy; the Seattle Public Library fountain; his World War II experiences; art and World's Fairs; fountains he has sculpted and his feelings about them; and permanency in art.
Moy speaks of his childhood in Canton, China; his immigration to Minnesota; the art scene in Minneapolis and Saint Paul in the 1930s; his education; the influence of his teachers, including Cameron Booth, Hans Hofmann, and Vaclav Vytlacil; the influence of Stanley William Hayter; being introduced to printmaking by the WPA art project in Minnesota; his service as a photographer in World War II; his teaching philosophy; and the art scene in Provincetown in the 1970s.
Chinn speaks of his childhood; the formation of the Chinese Art Club in Seattle in the 1930s; exhibitions of his work in the 1940s; the Chinese and Western styles of his paintings; his teaching career; his friendship with Fay Chong; and his opinion of the Asian influence in Mark Tobey's work.
Who is Dana Tai Soon Burgess? He is an internationally recognized choreographer. He's a contemporary dance performer. He's the son of an Irish-Scottish American father from upstate New York and a Korean-American mother from Hawaii. He's the director of Washington DC's first Asian-American dance company.
His analysis of identity through movement will kickoff the Smithsonian's celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Burgess and his troupe will perform "Dancing Through The Asian American Experience," at the American Art Museum's McEvoy Auditorium. The event will take place tomorrow, May 8 at 6 p.m.
Burgess took a quick rehearsal break to speak with me about the upcoming performance and his thoughtful take on identity.
You're performing three original works, "Chino Latino," "Hyphen" and "Island." What kind of story does each tell?
All three of them are about the Asian American experience -- just from different perspectives.
"Chino Latino" is based on the presence of Asians in Latin and South America for over a century. When Asian communities move to the Untied States, they are often closely aligned to Latino communities.
"Hyphen" integrates the work of video artist Nam June Paik. It has to do with Asian Americans and other hyphenated Americans—African Americans, Irish Americans—and that place in between those two worlds where identity resides.
"Island" is a work in progress. It's based historically on Angel Island, which was the immigration station on the west coast where Chinese, Koreans and South Asians predominantly came through. When they arrived, they were held and questioned before they were either allowed into the United States or sent back.
Why do you choose to use video art, like Nam June Paik's, as part of your work?
It's another layer of imaging that I'm interested in. How can our contemporary technology add to the emotional landscape? I'm interesting in telling emotional stories about humanity and about relationships.
As you perform these stories of multiple identities, who are you performing as?
A lot of art is generated out of the subconscious and makes its way to the conscious realm. The personas are all characters within myself, characters that come from growing up and from friends.
What should audiences pay attention to when they see your work?
We work very hard on a unique fusion of Eastern and Western movement. They'll see a lot of gestures combined with larger modern dance movements. I hope that the pieces will resonate with them so that they ponder their own life experiences questioning their identity.
What are your thoughts on May being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
I think that it's wonderful to have a celebration in May. The Asian-American diaspora experience is so varied. Many different Asian Americans have had a profound effect on the American landscape. I hope people celebrating with us in May will continue celebrating with us throughout the year.
Chef Jeffrey Adams reaches for the spice ladle as Florence Pope, right, a Smithsonian nurse; Richard Ahlborn, a curator in the National Museum of American History's Division of Community Life; and other staffers wait with anticipation for a delicious lunch at the National Museum of American History's recent Wok Day. To help celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Daka restaurants held a Wok Day at Natural History and one at American History.