Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter
This exhibition displays the diversity of contemporary Asian American identity through the groundbreaking work of seven visual artists. Roger Shimomura is a third-generation American of Japanese descent who deconstructs Asian American stereotypes through his art. Born in San Francisco, Shizu Saldamando blends references to youth subculture in Southern California with nods to her Japanese and Mexican heritage. Other artists use concepts of diaspora, migration, and transnationalism to expand the meaning of their Asian American identity.
Artists from Asia who work in the United States—like Satomi Shirai, who moved to New York City from Tokyo, or Hye Yeon Nam, who came to this country from Korea to study art, and CYJO, an artist currently based in China—regularly travel back and forth from Asia to the United States and craft unique portraits of encounter from their experiences.
Artists who now live in this country—like Zhang Chun Hong, who spent the last year in her native China but makes her home in Kansas, or Tam Tran, whose family relocated to Tennessee from Vietnam—inflect their journey in expressive ways. This group of artists demonstrates, in microcosm, the nuances inherent to the Asian American experience. Their portraits of encounter offer representations against and beyond the stereotypes that have long obscured the complexity of being Asian in America and reveal the threads of contemporary life in novel ways.
Exhibition curators include Brandon Brame Fortune, Anne Collins Goodyear, Frank H. Goodyear III, Lauren Johnson, Rebecca Kasemeyer, Wendy Wick Reaves, Ann M. Shumard, and David C. Ward.
(Born 1974, Korea)
Zhang Chun Hong
(Born 1971, China)
Hye Yeon Nam
(Born 1979, Korea)
(Born 1978, United States)
(Born 1939, United States)
(Born 1972, Japan)
(Born 1986, Vietnam)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patsy Brown
Director of Communications & External Affairs
Asia Society Texas Center
Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter to Open at Asia Society Texas Center November 9
HOUSTON, TX (October 2012) — Asia Society Texas Center presents Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter, a pioneering exhibition of work that explodes stereotypes that obscure the complexity of being Asian in America. Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, the exhibition showcases the portraiture of seven artists representing a cross-section of the Asian American experience. Collectively their work demonstrates, in microcosm, the nuances inherent in Asian American life. The show opens November 9, 2012 and runs through April 14, 2013.
“This remarkable exhibition challenges conventional notions of portraiture,” said Martha Blackwelder, Executive Director of the Texas Center. “The seven artists represented in the show take us on their journeys of self-questioning. What emerges are fresh angles of view on Asian American identity, offered in formally innovative work in a diverse set of media—painting, works on paper, and video as well as photography. Sometimes playful, sometimes unsettling, always thought-provoking, Portraiture Now delivers an emotionally rich experience.”
Roger Shimomura is a third-generation American of Japanese descent who has spent his career fighting stereotypes through his art. Shizu Saldamando was born in San Francisco and blends references to youth culture in Southern California with nods to both her Japanese and Mexican heritage. Other artists use concepts of diaspora, migration, and transnationalism to expand the meaning of their Asian American identity. Some are artists from Asia who work in the U.S., like Satomi Shirai, who moved to New York from Japan, and Hye Yeon Nam, who came to the U.S. from Korea to study art. Zhang Chun Hong recently spent a year in her native China, but makes her home in Lawrence, Kansas. Artists such as CYJO travel back and forth from Asia to America; The KYOPO Project focuses on the international community of Koreans living abroad. Tam Tran’s family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, from Vietnam during the early 1990s.
“These exceptional works are portals into the souls of the American experience, world cultures and their intersections,” said Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. “Asian American Portraits of Encounter provides engaging points of view that will enrich the understanding of Asian Pacific America.”
“I am thrilled that this installation of the National Portrait Gallery’s Portraiture Now exhibition series is travelling to Asia Society Texas Center,” said Wendy Wick Reaves, interim director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter, is a provocative and path-breaking show that affirms the many complex realities of Asian identity in American culture today.”
The National Portrait Gallery curators for the exhibition are Brandon Brame Fortune, Anne Collins Goodyear, Frank H. Goodyear III, Lauren Johnson, Rebecca Kasemeyer, Wendy Wick Reaves, Ann M. Shumard, and David C. Ward. Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter will travel to the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles on May 11, 2013 and will be on view there until September 29, 2013.
On a national level, lead support for the exhibition, publication, and related programs is provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Rebecca Houser Westcott Fund for Portraiture Now. Additional support is provided by Andrew S. Ree and the Joh Foundation.
Locally, the exhibition is supported by the City of Houston and Houston Arts Alliance, United Airlines, Dorothy Carsey Sumner, Chinhui and Eddie Allen, Karen and John Bradshaw, Jereann Chaney, Judy and Scott Nyquist, and underwriting from other friends.
About Asia Society Texas Center
Asia Society Texas Center is part of a leading global educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asian and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, Asia Society Texas Center provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to connect Americans and Asians for a shared future.
About the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story. The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C.
About the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program provides vision, leadership and support for Asian and Pacific Islander American initiatives and works to better reflect their contributions to the American experience, world culture and the understanding of the planet and the natural world throughout Smithsonian collections, research, exhibitions, outreach and education programs.
Lead support for the exhibition, publication, and related programs is provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Rebecca Houser Westcott Fund for Portraiture Now.
Additional support is provided by Andrew S. Ree and the Joh Foundation.
Exhibitions at Asia Society Texas Center are supported by United Airlines, the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and generous contributions from the Friends of Exhibitions group. Lead sponsors include Chinhui Juhn & Eddie Allen, Anne & Albert Chao, and Nancy C. Allen. Presenting sponsors include Glen Gondo/Sushic LLC and Dorothy Carsey Sumner. Underwriters include Karen and John Bradshaw Sr., Jereann Chaney, Dillon Kyle Architecture, and Judy & Scott Nyquist. Contributors include Jo & Jim Furr, Teri & Jeff Lee, Judith and Bruce E. Campbell Jr., Maggie and Bruce E. Campbell III, Monjula and Ravi S. Chidambaram, Judy and Robert Gerry, Bebe Woolley and Dan Gorski, Dr. Yang O. Hue, Sissy and Denny Kempner, Sushila and Dr. Ninan Mathew, Chong-Ok Matthews, Wade Mayberry, Tae and Young Park, Jae Y. Ro, Lillie Robertson, Louis H. Skidmore, Jr., with additional support from Susie and Sanford Criner, Lily and Charles Foster, Clare Attwell Glassell, Y. Ping Sun and David W. Leebron, Lea Weingarten, Clint T. Willour and numerous other supporters (as of November 5, 2012).