The Art of Representation: Asian American Art in the Mainstream Art World
The study of Asian American art has been largely neglected in social institutions such as the art historical discipline as well as in the mainstream art museum. Asian American art, as an example of art by people of color, should receive currency in our dialogue on diversity because the art world is without a doubt a cultural construct that is largely still an unpenetrated, uncontested terrain between the white, primarily male, majority who make up the artistic cannon, and the marginalized artists of color. As the world rapidly becomes globalized with the U.S. at the forefront, the U.S. is still unfortunately behind in negotiating and coming to terms with its own pluralism. I aim to study not the visual representation of Asian American art though, but rather the public presentation of Asian American art via exhibition practices. Such a study is important to our discourse on understanding diversity because it is not simply the images that influence the public's perception of Asian America, or the "other," but even more so the manner in which they are exhibited that influences, or one could even say manipulates, the public's reception of the ethnic group. I will first examine the history of Asian immigrant artists in America and specific problems that they faced. I will then investigate the few exhibitions on Asian American art I have discovered in the process of my research and critique their shortcomings as well as their efficacy. I will then conclude, based on this inquiry on Asian American art, by giving suggestions on how we as proponents of multiculturalism could better exhibit the full spectrum of "American" art.
Keywords: Asian American, Representation, Race, Identity, Fine Art, Immigrants
Ms. Vivian Li
History of Art Department, The Ohio State University