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Article

Margo Machida

(b New York, Aug 16, 1949).

American printmaker and installation artist. Born and raised in New York City, Arai, a third-generation Japanese American printmaker, mixed-media artist, public artist and cultural activist, studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and The Printmaking Workshop in New York. Since the 1970s, her diverse projects have ranged from individual works to large-scale public commissions (see Public art in the 21st century). She has designed permanent public works, including an interior mural commemorating the African burial ground in lower Manhattan and an outdoor mural for Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Other works include Wall of Respect for Women (1974), a mural on New York’s Lower East Side, which was a collaboration between Arai and women from the local community. Her art has been exhibited in such venues as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, International Center for Photography, P.S.1 Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, all New York and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Joan Mitchell Foundation....

Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Alexandra Chang

Artists’ collective founded in 1982 by Bing Lee, Eric Chan (b 1975), Chung Kang Lok, Jerry Kwan (1934–2008), Ming Fay (b 1943) and Kwok, under the guiding principle of collaboration. Lee had also founded the Visual Arts Society in Hong Kong prior to Epoxy. While the original members had come to New York City’s downtown arts scene from Hong Kong, the collective ranged from four to eleven members and included artists from China, Canada and elsewhere, such as Zhang Hongtu (b 1943) and Andrew Culver (b 1953).

The group’s name originates from the epoxy resin gluing agent in which two different substances are blended to generate a third substance, which binds. The members felt that through collaboration, they could create projects that were singular to neither one nor the other member, and also suggest East and West cross-cultures. The group often worked with mixed-media, photocopied images, sound installation and projection, and dealt with topics concerning politics and religion....

Article

Anthony W. Lee

(b Gee Village [now Chu Village], Guangdong Province, China, Feb 22, 1906; d New York, NY, June 5, 1963).

American painter, poet, essayist and inventor. Gee traveled to San Francisco in 1921, joining his father, a merchant in Chinatown. In 1925 he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) where he took classes with Otis Oldfield (1890–1969) and Gottardo Piazzoni and experimented for the first time in oils. A year later he co-founded two separate art collectives, the Modern Gallery, comprised mostly of white artists with substantial European-based training, and the Chinese Revolutionary Artists’ Club, comprised exclusively of young Chinese immigrants. The differences between the groups reflected an ongoing tension in Gee’s professional and political ambitions between the search for newer forms of modern art and the desire to ennoble a diasporic Chinese sensibility. He initially developed a style of short, choppy brushwork and the juxtaposition of hot and cold colors, and subjects based on the people, streets and goods of Chinatown. He would later call this practice “Diamondism.”...

Article

American artists’ collective and support network formed in New York in 1990 by Ken Chu, Bing Lee and cultural critic, curator, and artist Margo Machida. The artists hoped to develop a network of artists and to document and build a discourse on Asian American art. The group disbanded in 2001.

The original members of the group included Tomie Arai, Ken Chu, Karin Higa, Arlan Huang (b 1948), Byron Kim, Colin Lee (b 1953), Bing Lee, Janet Lin, Mei-Lin Liu, Margo Machida, Stephanie Mar, Yong Soon Min, Helen Oji, Eugenie Tsai, and Garson Yu. This small group of artists, arts administrators and critics began by gathering in members’ apartments, but membership quickly grew to over 200 strong, which made it necessary for Godzilla’s meetings to be held in alternative art spaces throughout the city including Artists Space, The Drawing Center, and Art in General. Artists who later joined Godzilla included Allan deSouza (...

Article

Margo Machida

(b Guangzhou, China, Sept 15, 1948).

Chinese multimedia artist. Raised in Hong Kong and Macau, Lee immigrated to the United States in 1973 to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio (BFA 1977), followed by graduate studies at Syracuse University (1977–9). Moving to New York City in 1979, he became actively involved with the burgeoning downtown Manhattan arts community, where he created Graffiti and poster art, as well as outdoor slide theater works. Beginning in the 1980s, Lee co-founded three New York-based arts collectives: Epoxy Art Group (1981–7), Godzilla: Asian American Art Network (1990–2001) and Tomato Grey (2009). The first, Epoxy Art Group, involved project-oriented collaborations with artists from mainland China, Canada and Hong Kong that reflected their intersecting standpoints as Chinese living in the West. Godzilla: Asian American Art Network was a pan-Asian, intergenerational art group. Most recently, with Tomato Grey, Lee became involved with a new cohort of contemporary immigrant artists who endeavor to foster cultural exchange between arts practitioners in Hong Kong and New York City. Lee was a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York (...

Article

Reena Jana

[Lee Seung-Hee]

(b Kye-Chang, Korea, 1970).

Korean photographer and filmmaker. Lee is known for her self-portraits, in which she presents herself in various ethnic and societal roles, from a middle-aged, low-income Hispanic party hostess to a young, wealthy Asian businesswoman. Lee received her BFA from the Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 1993, an AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1996, and an MA in Photography, New York University, 1999. For her Projects series (1997–2001), Lee immersed herself in various American communities for extended time, from a clique of teenage skateboarders to executives who work in midtown Manhattan, informing group members of her status as an artist while assuming the wardrobe, hairstyle and mannerisms of a fictional character she sought to portray. She then asked members of these social groups to photograph her using everyday cameras and no enhanced lighting or backgrounds. The result is a series of snapshot-like images depicting the artist taking on a multitude of temporary personalities. When seen together, the photographs suggest a mosaic of American experiences....

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Taegu, Korea, June 5, 1973).

Korean painter. When Moon moved to the USA in 1999 to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she already had an MFA in painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. She eventually earned her second MFA from University of Iowa in 2002. In her ink and acrylic painting on paper, Moon combines references to popular culture with images and techniques reminiscent of her Asian cultural background such as calligraphy.

The essential characteristic of Moon’s work is its visual and material hybridity that owes much to her expertise in both Asian and Western painting traditions. Dynamic use of color, allover composition and depictions of quasi-organic motifs in Moon’s landscapes may suggest affinity to abstract painting by Helen Frankenthaler. Just as many Abstract Expressionists did, Moon’s composition envisions primordial landscape of a life-giving planet where chaos is destructive and creative at the same time. For example, Haven (...

Article

Karin Higa

[ Yuzuru ]

(b Wakayama, Japan, March 12, 1900; d New York City, NY, May 8, 1990).

American painter of Japanese birth. Sugimoto immigrated to the USA in 1919, when he joined his parents, who had previously settled in Hanford, a central California farming community. In 1924, he enrolled at the California School of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (now known as the California College of the Arts) to study painting, and later continued at the California School of Fine Arts (now known as the San Francisco Art Institute). He traveled to Paris in 1929, where he studied at the Académie Colarossi and exhibited his paintings at the 1931 Salon d’Automne and regional exhibitions in nearby Crècy and Lagny. By 1932, he returned to San Francisco, where his landscapes of the French and California countryside garnered increasing attention, including a solo exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1933, and exhibitions at the Oakland Art Gallery (now Oakland Museum of California) and San Francisco Museum of Art (now San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). In ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b Hong Kong, 1950; d New York, March 10, 1990).

Chinese–American performance artist and photographer. Tseng grew up in Hong Kong, but immigrated to Canada with his family in 1966. He attended two years of university there before studying art in Paris from 1970 to 1974 at the Ecole Superior d’Arts Graphiques and the Académie Julian. He inherited an interest in photography from his father, who frequently photographed his family with a camera acquired while he was in the Nationalist Army. Experiences as a Chinese living abroad inspired Tseng’s East Meets West project, which defined his career from 1979 until his death from AIDS in 1990. The series of photographs examined the significance of tourist attractions as signs of nation and power, the intersection of local and visitor at these sites and the reception of the Chinese as the cultural other.

Tseng met Keith Haring after settling in Manhattan’s East Village in 1978 and the two became close friends and collaborators. He photographed Haring in the act of painting in his studio, the subway and other public venues, producing more than 40,000 images (Keith Haring Documentary Archives, Tseng Kwong Chi Estate). Both artists believed that the process of making art was like a performance and contributed to the meaning of the work. This perspective informed Tseng’s ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Honolulu, HI, Oct 3, 1961).

American installation artist of Japanese ancestry. Yamamoto’s works have evoked an emotional memory that speaks to a larger social and historical context. Her delicate and labor-intensive installations have often served as visual metaphors for the forgotten lives of Japanese and Japanese Americans, many of whom were profoundly affected by the Pacific war.

Yamamoto received her BA in art from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in 1983 and M.A. in studio art from New York University in 1991. She also participated in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and Skowhegan. From 1990 to 2003 she worked as an artist educator in museums, public schools and colleges in New York, and participated in many national and international artist-in-residence programs. From 2003 Yamamoto taught at Smith College in Northampton, MA.

Yamamoto’s early sculptural works memorialized her grandmother, Chiyo, who came to Hawaii in the early 20th century as a picture bride. She was a laundress on a sugar plantation and committed suicide at the age of 49 in ...

Article

Michelle Yun

[ Huei-Zu ]

(b Taipei, Taiwan, 1961; d New York, NY, Feb 8, 1997).

Taiwanese curator and art historian. Yang immigrated to the United States at age 15. She received a BA in Art History from Yale University in 1984 that included a six-month sabbatical to Jinan University in Guangzhou to study Chinese in 1982. Yang was exposed to art from a young age through her mother, Suhwa Chou Yang, who ran the Hunglin Art Gallery in Taipei in the 1970s. Upon graduation Yang held internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art , both in New York, before accepting a position as Assistant Curator at the New Museum, New York, in 1988. Notable exhibitions she curated during her time at the New Museum include 1+1+1: Works by Alfredo Jaar (1992); Skin Deep (1993); and The Final Frontier (1993). She left the New Museum in 1993 to work as an independent curator and critic while studying to earn a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. In early ...