To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) presents an excerpt from the Prints and Photographs Division’s Picture This blog post: Speaking through Images: Asian American Photographers and Printmakers.
The contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders spring up throughout the Library’s digital collections much like the flowers of this season. As we prepare for the projects and research of CCDI grant recipients, Jr. Fellows and artists/scholars in residence, we will continue to highlight contributions to the Library’s digital collections by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other minorities in a way that goes beyond a month or season.
Speaking through Images: Asian American Photographers and Printmakers at the Library of Congress
May 13, 2021 by Kristi Finefield
The following is a guest post by Adam Silvia, Curator of Photography, and Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints in the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.
In honor of this year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May 1-31) the Prints & Photographs Division would like to share with you a selection of compelling photographs and graphic artworks by Asian American creators.
One such creator is An Rong Xu. Born in China and raised in New York City, Xu is traveling across the United States photographing fellow Asian Americans. His photos, like that showing the Crimson Kings marching band in New York’s Chinatown, capture beauty in the everyday, as the subjects pursue their own American dream.
The image by Xu makes us think about a drypoint by Kakyoung Lee that depicts a steady flow of pedestrians moving through Grand Army Plaza in another part of New York City. Lee animated the images and added atmospheric noises. “My moving images are lyrically poetic first person stories,” says Lee. “Trying to locate my identity, I seek it in the different geographic and cultural milieus through which I have passed.”
While New York’s Chinatown and New York City as a whole occupy a prominent position in American visual culture, Xu’s photography in the American West challenges us to broaden our thinking about Asian Americans. One photo shows Ryan Takemiya, a Japanese American actor, wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigarette, like John Wayne. Xu photographed him looking out into the Arizona sunrise.
- Join the authors of this post on Wed., May 19th at 3:00 pm EDT for a Prints & Photographs Virtual Orientation on the subject of Asian Americans & Visual Culture. Register here. The virtual orientation is free and open to the public.
- May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Visit the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month portal website, where the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.
- Learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islander related materials in the collections of the Library of Congress through these research guides:
- View video presentations on Asian American heritage and history from the Library of Congress.
Follow this link for the blog post in its entirety.
All images in this post are rights restricted and used by permission of the artists.