Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center adds over 100 new works of Asian American art

Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center adds over 100 new works of Asian American art
via Youtube/Stanford
Michelle De Pacina
December 19, 2023
Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center has acquired over 100 new works of Asian American art, expanding its collection to approximately 400 objects as part of the Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI). 
About AAAI: The initiative, founded in 2018, aims to address the underrepresentation of Asian American art in academia and curatorial collections. AAAI, whose founding co-directors are Aleesa Alexander and Marci Kwon, acquires, preserves, exhibits and studies art related to Asian American and Asian diaspora artists. The art collection seeks to celebrate the diversity of Asian American identities and experiences, challenging stereotypes amid ongoing anti-Asian racism
“I am thrilled to continue our work to support Asian American art and artists,” said Alexander, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Together, we are not only redefining the Cantor’s identity, but art history as it is being written.” 
AAAI’s approach: In contrast to large museums that may prioritize flashier pieces, AAAI’s curatorial approach, as stated by Alexander, focuses on illustrating a diverse history by showcasing a variety of objects. The initiative aims not to establish a canon but to highlight the multiplicity of cultural production by Asian American and Asian diaspora makers. AAAI’s collection aims to offer a comprehensive view of Asian interests, ideas, dreams and fears.
New artists: Notable artists like the late Filipino painter Pacita Abad, Chinese American artists Mel Chin and Kenneth Tam, Japanese American painter Ben Sakoguchi, Korean American figurative painter Sasha Gordon and Los Angeles-based Filipino artist Miljohn Ruperto are among those now represented in the collection.
Additional San Francisco artists also include South Korean multidisciplinary artist Heesoo Kwon, Chinese American photographers Benjamen Chinn and Reagan Louie and Filipino American conceptual artist Stephanie Syjuco.
Notable artwork: One notable addition to the collection is a woodblock print titled “McDonald’s Hamburgers Invading Japan” by Japanese American artist Masami Teraoka. 
According to the SF Chronicle, the print addresses Asian American cultural anxiety, depicting a Japanese woman in traditional attire holding a hamburger, shocked by a blond woman with quasi-Asian tattoos slurping ramen. Although both characters partake in each other’s cuisine, the Japanese woman ends up with the cheaper meal.
Upcoming exhibitions: The acquisitions will be showcased in three exhibitions in 2024-2025, including “Spirit House,” which explores the concept of Thai spirit houses through works by 30 contemporary Asian artists, focusing on life, death and the beyond. The exhibitions will also be complemented by a reinstallation of the art center’s permanent collection.
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