Dear Colleague Letter

Dear Colleague,

It is with great pleasure that we are informing you about the upcoming 2012 NEH Summer Institute from July 9-28, 2012, entitled “Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching” that will be hosted by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute (A/P/A Institute) at New York University (NYU). The Summer Institute for twenty-five college and university teachers will deepen participants’ understanding of pivotal developments and critical issues in Asian American art history and visual culture studies, while concurrently providing access to specialized archives that will enhance their research and teaching in the humanities.


In the past two decades, there has been an upsurge of interest in Asian American art among both students and scholars. The last decades of the twentieth century witnessed an explosive growth in Asian American cultural production, prompting the proclamation of a “Harlem Renaissance-like era” in the arts. By the 1990s the expanding presence of foreign-born Asian artists and intellectuals was also having a significant impact on Asian American art communities and the American art world. A conceptual realignment ensued as scholars began to place Asian American art in a transnational framework and to think through its relationship with the notion of diaspora. Meanwhile, new generations of art historians and scholars in other disciplines introduced critical perspectives from postmodernist, psychoanalytic, and postcolonial theory, as well as from literary, film, and performance studies, into this expanding and multivalent dialogue. The Institute will contribute to the professional development of this burgeoning intellectual community of inquiry by providing access to top scholars in the field and newly identified archival and research resources that are fundamental to the development of the study of Asian American Art History, for which materials have historically been difficult to access. The institute will also provide a network of colleagues interested in developing the field in the academy, which is especially important in a new field where academic support and associations dedicated to its study have only recently begun to emerge.


The Institute will cover key periods in Asian American art history beginning in the last century and continuing through the present, focusing upon important artists and art historical moments as well as the intersection of Asian American visual cultures and transnationalism. Summer Institute faculty includes Co-Directors of the Summer Institute Alexandra Chang of A/P/A Institute at NYU and Margo Machida of University of Connecticut at Storrs. Lecturers and Seminar Leaders will include nationally prominent experts in the fields of art history, history, Asian American Studies, art education, curatorial and museum work, and library and information science: Sergio Bessa (The Bronx Museum of the Arts), Melissa Chiu (Asia Society), Dipti Desai (NYU), Vishakha Desai (Asia Society), Amy Hau (Noguchi Museum), Karin Higa (Japanese American National Museum), Mark D. Johnson (San Francisco State University), Marvin Taylor (NYU), John Kuo Wei Tchen (NYU), Jeffrey Wechsler (Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University), Tom Wolf (Bard College), and Midori Yoshimoto (Jersey City University). The Institute will build on developing scholarship and its use in curricula and other forms of educational engagements and dissemination.

The 25 selected participants in the Summer Institute will be provided with a stipend of $2,700, be given access to NYU libraries, and have the option to reside in NYU summer dormitory housing for a subsidized fee. The Institute readings, seminars and lectures will be key in unearthing materials on Asian American artists, re-envisioning the parameters of an American art history that is very little discussed. Participants will hear lectures, engage in dialogue and selected advanced readings, work on individual research projects, and share their research with colleagues. In addition, Institute Co-Directors and Seminar Leaders will hold office hours to meet with participants individually during the length of their stay. Moreover, participants will benefit from the resources of New York City — its museums, galleries, and vibrant Asian American artist communities that played key roles in the formation of regional and national Asian American art histories. Talks and tours at a number of New York City institutions — museums, archives, and artist studios — will provide variety and unveil important resources for research. Lectures and seminars, as well as colloquia will be videotaped and archived as part of the East Coast Asian American Art Project, a multi-faceted, multi-year research and archival initiative incorporating archives acquisitions, digital archives development, exhibition, publication, programming components and the NEH Summer Institute.


SUMMARY SCHEDULE: July 9-28, 2011

For full seminar descriptions and more information, visit: COURSE CONTENT





MORNING:  Orientation tour for participants, A/P/A Institute at NYU

AFTERNOON KEYNOTE:  Mark Johnson, Professor of Art and Gallery Director, San Francisco State University on Asian American Art: A History

Response with Keynote Discussant Vishakha N. Desai, President and CEO of Asia Society



MORNING: Karin Higa, Senior Adjunct Curator at the Japanese American National Museum on “At the Margins of American Modernism: Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, and Japanese American Artists, 1919-1945, A Case Study” 

AFTERNOONTom Wolf, Professor of Art History at Bard College.

Part 1. Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953) and Isamu Noguchi (1905-1988).  The first of two lectures on these artists defines their careers in the context of the U.S. and other Japanese American artists creating during their time.



Devoted to field research, reading, and consulting with Institute directors.



MORNING: Tom Wolf, Professor of Art History at Bard College.

Part 2. Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953) and Isamu Noguchi (1905-1988).  The second of two lectures on these artists examines their work in the international artistic and political milieu.



MORNING:  Karin Higa, Senior Adjunct Curator, Japanese American National Museum on “The Long and Curious Life of Isamu Noguchi: Monographic Approaches in Asian American Art History”. This lecture will take place at the Noguchi Museum.

AFTERNOON: The Noguchi Museum



MORNING: John Kuo Wei Tchen, Director, Asian/Pacific/American Institute, NYU, will lead a tour of the Museum of Chinese in America and discuss “Opening Up Dialogues and Interpretations of the Visual Arts”





MORNING: Jeffrey Wechsler, Senior curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University on “American-type Painting” and/or “Asian American-type Painting”: an East/West Synthesis

AFTERNOON: Midori Yoshimoto, Associate Professor of Art History, New Jersey City University on “Fluxus Nexus/Tokyo-New York” 



MORNING:  Visit to the Museum of Modern Art 

AFTERNOON:  Panel discussion led by Jeffrey Wechsler, Curator, Zimmerli Museum, featuring Asian American artists Don Ahn, Chinyee, Chuang Che, and Ralph Iwamoto. The panel will take place at the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery. Following the lecture, participants will be treated to a tour of the gallery led by Jeffrey Wechsler.



Devoted to field research, reading, and consulting with Institute directors.



MORNING:  Margo Machida, Assoc. Professor, Art History & Asian American Studies, Univ. of CT, on “Orality, Art Histories, and Interpretation in Asian American Art”

AFTERNOON:  Dipti Desai, Associate Professor and Director of the Art Education Program, NYU, on “Teaching, Archives, and Asian American Art”



MORNING: Marvin Taylor, Director at NYU Fales Library & Special Collections on “Collections Building: Artist papers and Archives at Fales Library & Special Collections”

AFTERNOON:  Artist talks with Tomie Arai and Jaishri Abichandani



MORNING:  Visit to the home of choreographer Muna Tseng and the estate of her brother, artist Tseng Kwong Chi. Discussion led by Dipti Desai.





MORNING: Alexandra Chang, Curator of Special Projects & Director of Global Arts Programs, A/P/A Institute, NYU, on “The Art of Cosmopolitanism: Contemporary Asian American Art”

AFTERNOON: Studio visit with artist Zhang Hongtu. A lecture by the artist and discussion led by Alexandra Chang.



MORNING:  Melissa Chiu, Museum Director & Curator for Contemporary Asian and Asian-American Art, Asia Society, will lead a tour of The Asia Society Gallery and Museum

AFTERNOON:  Visit to the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Tour and discussion led by Sergio Bessa, Director of Curatorial and Educational Programs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.


WEDNESDAY:  Devoted to field research, reading and consulting with Institute directors.


THURSDAY AND FRIDAY:  Two full-day Colloquia on Participants’ Research.


FRIDAY EVENING:  Reception for participants and faculty.




As you can note from the summary schedule, the Institute will not only contribute to the intellectual and professional development of its participants but also build a community of inquiry among researchers with interests in Asian American art and art history. We invite applications from college teachers, museum educators, or independent scholars deeply engaged in work in the fields of art history, history, public history, literature, ethnic studies, American studies, or archives. In addition, we encourage advanced graduate students to apply. Applicants should have a documented interest in Asian American/Asian diasporic art or similar fields and commitment to teaching and learning about Asian American art. Full eligibility requirements are listed in the application information on the APPLY page of this web site.

The most important part of the application is the essay. This essay should include your reasons for applying to the specific project; your relevant personal and academic information; your qualifications to do the work of the project and make a contribution to it; what you hope to accomplish; and the relation of the study to your teaching.

Please visit the APPLY page of this website for more information on how to apply.  Your completed application should be postmarked no later than March 1, 2012, and should be addressed as follows:


Asian/Pacific/American Institute

NEH Summer Institute

41-51 E. 11th Street, Fl. 7

New York, NY 10003


We look forward to your application and hope that you will be joining us Summer 2012!



Alexandra Chang and Margo Machida