I briefly mentioned in an earlier post that I had seen the Asian American Portraits exhibit in DC's National Portrait Gallery. The show provides diverse viewpoints of Asian artists. My favorite artists were Zhang Chun Hong, Hye Yeon Nam, and Roger Shimomura. I wasn't allowed to take photos but please have a look at the links.
Zhang's charcoal drawings of luxuriously long, black hair on large scale scrolls were quietly stunning and gorgeous.
I sat and watched through some of Hye's videos. Her four-part video self-potrait, Walking, Drinking, Eating, and Sitting, symbollically depicted her struggle as a foreigner in the US. It reminded me of my own struggles of helping my parents with language and navigating American society.
Shimomura's paintings utilized humor and his portrait to play on Asian stereotypes such as using his likeness on Hello Kitty's face or depicting himself as George Washington.
So what's an experience of someone growing up Asian in the US like? Feeling like an outsider, sometimes feeling invisible, being thought of as different or exotic. A character-building struggle to put it (over) simply.
I'm grateful that I got to see this show. Now I want to re-read the New York magazine article entitled Paper Tiger: What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?
Image and video used with respective artist's permission.