2012 Seminars – Videos

The NEH Summer Institute “Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching” was hosted by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University during July 9-27, 2012.

We invite educators, scholars, curators, researchers and those who would like to learn more about Asian American Art to view the videos below. The videos recorded the seminars and lectures given during the summer institute. The participant discussions, which took place after the talk/lectures, were not recorded to respect the atmosphere of open exchange of the summer institute. Please be sure to appropriately cite any portions of the video that you may use for your research.

Preferred Citation:
Speaker name. “Lecture Title.” Lecture at the NEH Summer Institute “Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching,” the Asian/Pacific/ American Institute at New York University, New York, NY, July 9-28, 2012. Publication date and/or access date if available. URL.

Please view this link for the complete seminar schedule during the 2012 NEH Summer Institute and suggested readings list. NEH Summer Institute Schedule & Readings 2012 (as of 7.12.2012)



July 9, 2012

Asian American Art: A History
Talk by Mark Johnson, Professor of Art and Gallery Director, San Francisco State University

Location: SCA Flex Space, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

In this video, Mark Johnson provides an overview of the emerging field of Asian American art history, discussing the fifteen year research initiative that resulted in the publication of Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 (2008) and the exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, “Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970” (2008), for which he was co-curator.

This landmark project helped define the field of Asian American art and the publication that resulted from it Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 serves as important background for the many seminars during the Summer Institute. This keynote introduces the field and outline key issues of accessibility, archives, teaching, and other recent developments in the field that will be discussed throughout the Summer Institute.

A response follows with Keynote Discussant Vishakha N. Desai, President and CEO of Asia Society.


From the publication Chang, Gordon H., Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul D. Karlstrom,
eds. Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Gordon H. Chang, “Foreword: “Emerging from the Shadows: The Visual Arts and Asian American History” (pp. ix-xv);
Mark Dean Johnson, “Beyond East and West: Introduction, Artists of Asian Ancestry in America” (pp. xvii-xxiii);
Ibid., “Uncovering Asian American Art in San Francisco, 1850-1940,” (pp. 1-29)


July 10, 2012

“At the Margins of American Modernism: Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, and Japanese American Artists, 1919-1945, A Case Study”
Seminar conducted by Karin Higa, Senior Adjunct Curator at the Japanese American National Museum
Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

This is a video of a seminar focusing on the artistic activity centered in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo between the two World Wars as a dynamic nexus of artists, art, audiences, and intellectual exchange. Using the neighborhood as a case study, Higa situates the work of the Little Tokyo Japanese American artists within broader cultural and artistic discourses in Los Angeles, the United States, and internationally. The seminar explores how artists in Little Tokyo grappled with what it meant to be modern and explored the contours of modernist form in their art.

Karin Higa, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Little Tokyo Between the Wars”; in Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970, eds. Gordon Chang, Mark Johnson, and Paul Karlstrom (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2008), 31-53.

Wanda M. Corn, “Coming of Age: Historical Scholarship in American Art,” in Critical Issues in American Art: A Book of Readings, ed. Mary Ann Calo (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998), 1-34.

Karin Higa, “The Search for Roots, or Finding a Precursor,” in Asian American Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970, eds. Daniell Cornell et al (Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 2008), 15-22.

July 10, 2012

Part 1. Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953) and Isamu Noguchi (1905-1988)
Seminar Lecture conducted by Tom Wolf, Professor of Art History at Bard College

Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

Video currently not available.

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.

Wolf provides a brief survey of Japonisme, the European and American vogue for Japanese art, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He then takes an indepth look at Yasuo Kuniyoshi, perhaps the best known early Japanese artist besides Noguchi, reviewing his career and relating him to other lesser-known artists, such as Eitaro Ishigaki and Toshio Shimizu, both of whom were born in Japan and worked in the United States.

Readings for the lectures 1 and 2:
Christopher Benfy’s The Great Wave, Random House, 2003, pages 75-139.

Ayako Ishigaki’s Restless Wave, My Life in Two Worlds, The Feminist Press, CUNY, 2004, pages 184-248.

Asian American Art 1850-1970 anthology, Stanford University Press, 2008: pages 83-109.

July 12, 2012

Part 2. Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953) and Isamu Noguchi (1905-1988)
Seminar Lecture conducted by Tom Wolf, Professor of Art History at Bard College

Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

Video currently not available.

The second of two lectures on these artists examines their work in the international
artistic and political milieu.

Wolf explores the art and careers of Isamu Noguchi, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Tsuguharu Foujita, Hideo Noda, and Eitaro Ishigaki, Japanese nationals who lived in America but worked in Paris and Mexico as well as New York. Selections from Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 illuminate their art in the context of both American and international artistic and political developments. The seminar also considers the lives of several of these Japanese American artists during World War II and how this period is reflected in their art.

July 12, 2012

Talk with the curator Frances Morris, Tate Modern Head of Collections (International Art), of the exhibition “Yayoi Kusama”
Location: The Whitney Museum of American Art

This video documents a seminar talk at the Whitney Museum of American Art with the summer institute participants on the day of the opening of the exhibition “Yayoi Kusama” with exhibition curator Frances Morris.

Known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets, as well as her intense, large-scale environments, Yayoi Kusama works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, and immersive installation. Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama came to the United States in 1957 and quickly found herself at the heart of the New York avant-garde. After achieving fame through groundbreaking exhibitions and art “happenings,” she returned to her native country in 1973 and is now one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. This retrospective featured works spanning Kusama’s career and includes Kusama’s immersive installation Fireflies on the water (2002), a work in the Whitney’s collection.

July 13, 2012

“The Long and Curious Life of Isamu Noguchi: Monographic Approaches in Asian American Art History”
Seminar Lecture conducted by Karin Higa, Senior Adjunct Curator, Japanese American National Museum
Location: The Noguchi Museum

This video is of a seminar lecture presented onsite at the Noguchi Museum for the summer institute. Higa’s talk focuses on Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) as a polymath whose work in sculpture, landscape, and design made a profound and lasting impact on American culture. Born to an American mother and Japanese father, Noguchi literally and figuratively lived between the spheres of “East” and “West,” navigating multiple identities, modes of working, and critical responses to his art. Additionally, Higa surveys the literature on Noguchi to evaluate the ways in which Noguchi’s Asian American heritage was treated at different historical moments.

Louise Allison Cort and Bert Winther-Tamaki, eds., Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics: A Close Embrace of the Earth (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2003).

Amy Lyford, “Noguchi, Sculptural Abstraction, and the Politics of Japanese American Internment,” The Art Bulletin 85, no. 1 (March 2003): 137-151.

Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor’s World (New York: Harper & Row, 1968).

James Oles, “Noguchi in Mexico: International Themes for a Working-Class Market,” American Art 15, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 10-33.

Bert Winther, “The Rejection of Isamu Noguchi’s Hiroshima Cenotaph: A Japanese American Artist in Occupied Japan,” Art Journal 53, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 23-27.

July 14, 2012

“Opening Up Dialogues and Interpretations of the Visual Arts”
Seminar and tour of the Museum of Chinese in America led by John Kuo Wei Tchen, Director, Asian/Pacific/American Institute, NYU
Location: The Museum of Chinese in America


This video documents a seminar session within the Museum of Chinese in America’s core exhibition “With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America” and the nearby Manhattan’s historic Chinatown. Tchen’s seminar considers visual art within the larger realm of Asian American visual culture and the impact of visuality (whether in photography, art, film, advertising, tourist goods, or propaganda) in shaping Western audiences’ perceptions of their historical moment, place, social position, and attitudes toward Asian peoples. The readings for this session set forth a theoretical framework for considering how individuals come to perceive and engage with the world around them and the role that visuality plays in either constraining or liberating them to see their social environment in new ways.

Pierre Bourdieu, “Classes and Classifications” in Distinction: A social critique on the judgement of taste (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984) 466-84.

Michel Serres, “Visit” in The Five Senses, translated by Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley (London: Continuum Book, 2008) 236-310.

Loic J. D. Wacquant, “Toward a Social Praxeology” in An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992) 1-60.


July 16, 2012

“American-type Painting” and/or “Asian American-type Painting”: an East/West Synthesis
Seminar conducted by Jeffrey Wechsler, Acting Curator of the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Gallery and Former Senior Curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University

Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

This video documents a seminar session with Jeffrey Wechsler focusing upon American artists of East Asian ancestry (China, Japan, Korea) whose work comprises a still largely unnoticed section of Abstract Expressionism. For these artists, many of the formal, technical, and even philosophical aspects of Abstract Expressionism had predecessors within traditions of East Asian artistic practice. The seminar re-examines the Asian American painterly abstractionists who, between 1945 and 1970, brought together their personal experience of Asian aesthetics with American abstract modes, creating a modern artistic synthesis of East and West.

Jeffrey Wechsler, Asian Traditions / Modern Expressions: Asian American Artists and Abstraction, 1945-1970, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997)

Seth McCormick, Reiko Tomii, Hiroko Ikegami, Jeffrey Wechsler, and Midori Yoshimoto, with a response by Alexandra Munroe, “Exhibition as Proposition: Responding Critically to The Third Mind,” Art Journal 55, No.3 (2009)

David J. Clarke, The Influence of Oriental Thought on Post-war American Painting and Sculpture (New York: Garland Publishing, 1988)

July 17, 2012

“Fluxus Nexus/Tokyo-New York”
Seminar conducted by Midori Yoshimoto, Associate Professor of Art History, New Jersey City University

Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor


This video documents a seminar lecture by Midori Yoshimoto. The session focuses on Fluxus, which included an unusually large number of Japanese artists such as Yoko Ono, Ay-O, Takako Saito, Mieko Shiomi, Sigeko Kubota, Takehisa Kosugi, and Yasunao Tone, as well as a Korean artist Nam June Paik.

Through frequent travels and correspondence, these artists bridged communities in Tokyo and New York, infusing Fluxus concepts and events with new artistic developments in Japan. This session illuminates artistic exchanges that forged a nexus between New York and Tokyo and beyond. Readings from the session explore how Fluxus established its transnational network in the early 1960s and if the Fluxus mode of transnational collective is still valid today.

Midori Yoshimoto, Into Performance: Japanese Women Artists in New York (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2005).

Midori Yoshimoto, ed. “Women & Fluxus: Toward a feminist archive of Fluxus,” Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Nov. 2009): 287-293, 369-389.

Jon Hendricks, “Yoko Ono and Fluxus,” in Alexandra Munroe and J. Hendricks, eds., Yes Yoko Ono (New York: Japan Society and H. N. Abrams, 2000), 38-50.

Hannah Higgins, “Border Crossings: Three Transnationalisms of Fluxus,” in Not the Other Avant-Garde: The Transnational Foundations of Avant-Garde Performance, James Harding, ed., (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2006), 265-284.

Moira Roth, “The Voice of Shigeko Kubota: ‘A Fusion of Art and Life, Asia and America…’,” in Mary Jane Jacob, ed. Shigeko Kubota Video Sculpture (New York: American Museum of Moving Image, 1991), 76-87.

July 17, 2012

Panel discussion featuring Asian American artists Chinyee, Chuang Che, Po Kim, and Ralph Iwamoto
Moderated by Jeffrey Wechsler, Acting Curator of the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Gallery and Former Senior Curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University
Location: Sylvia Wald & Po Kim Art Gallery, 417 Lafayette Street 4th Floor


This video features a panel discussion at the Sylvia Wald & Po Kim Art Gallery with artists speaking of their experiences during the Abstract Expressionist era, offering a “living history” of the creation of work that bridged two cultures.

July 19, 2012

“Orality, Art Histories, and Interpretation in Asian American Art”
Seminar Lecture conducted by Margo Machida, Assoc. Professor, Art History & Asian American Studies, U. of CT

Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor


This video documents the seminar lecture held by Margo Machida during the summer institute.

Art objects provide a highly visible platform for the intersection of subjectivity and the social imaginary, and interviews and dialogue with artists offer a primary means of drawing out and articulating the distinctive sensibilities, life experiences, and world views that catalyze and shape such creative production. This session addresses different uses of evidence from direct oral exchange with living visual artists of Asian heritages in the United States.

Key questions focus on the place and orientation of the interviews, the type of information that was elicited, the passages that are especially incisive in understanding the artist and the work, as well as unexplored lines of inquiry that suggest directions for future research.

Michael Frisch, A Shared Authority: Essays on the Craft and Meaning of Oral History and Public History (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1990), xv-xxiv, 1-27, 81-88

Sherna Berger Gluck and Daphne Patai, editors, Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History (New York: Routledge, 1991), 1-5, 11-26, 61-62, 77-92, 121-136, 137-153.

Archives (Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Oral History Collection, online transcripts)
Note: students will be assigned to read the entire online transcripts listed below.

  • Oral History Interview with Carlos Villa, 1995 June 20-July 20, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-carlos-villa-5561
  • Oral History Interview with Hung Liu, 2010 April 25-29 by Joann Moser, for the Archives of American Art’s U.S. General Services Administration, Design for Excellence and the Arts oral history project, at Liu’s studio in Oakland, Calif.              Note: scheduled for transcription

Social and Intellectual History

Richard Cándida Smith, Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry, and Politics in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), xvii-xxvi, 172-211, 439-458.

Orality and Interpretation

Margo Machida, selected interview transcripts with Asian American and Pacific Islander artists in the United States, private archive, ca. 1995 to present

Oral History, Supplementary Readings:

Ronald J. Grele, editor, Envelopes of Sound: The Art of Oral History (New York: Praeger, 1991)

Alessandro Portelli, The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1991)

Donald A. Ritchie, Doing Oral History (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995)

Paul Thompson, The Voice of the Past: Oral History (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1988)

July 19, 2012

“Teaching, Archives, and Asian American Art”
Seminar Lecture conducted by Dipti Desai, Associate Professor and Director of the Art Education Program, NYU

Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor


This video documents a seminar lecture held by Dipti Desai during the summer institute.

Recently, several Asian American contemporary artists have examined archives through the medium of exhibitions, art books, and symposiums — interpreting, contesting, redefining, and even reinventing our understanding of these collections. Institute participants were asked to examine the ways these artists, including summer institute faculty member Tomie Arai, have referenced the archive in their work and in doing so raise questions about the nature and meaning of archives.

Desai, Dipti and Jessica Hamlin. “Artists in the Realm of Historical Methods: The Sound, Smell and Taste of History.” History as Art, Art as History: Contemporary Art and Social Studies Education. New York: Routledge, 2010. 47-66.

Enwezor, Okuwi Archive Fever: Uses of documents in contemporary art. London & New York: Stedil Publishing and International Center of Photography, 2008. P(introduction)

Merewether, Charles. The Archive (Documents of Contemporary Art). Boston: MIT Press. 2006.

Sekula, Allan. “The Body and the Archive,” October, Vol. 39, Winter,1986. pp. 3-64.

Schaffner, Ingrid et al, eds. Deep Storage: Collecting, storing and archiving in art. New York: Prestel, 1998.

July 20, 2012

“Collections Building: Artist papers and Archives at Fales Library & Special Collections”
Talk and tour conducted by Marvin Taylor, Director at NYU Fales Library & Special Collections

Location: NYU Fales Library & Special Collections

This video documents a talk and tour with Marvin Taylor of NYU Fales Library & Special Collections with summer institute participants. NYU Fales Library & Special Collections includes several important Asian American artists’ papers such as those of Martin Wong, Yun Gee, and Godzilla: Asian American Art Network. As participants view selected items from the archive, they also explore issues related to their acquisition, preservation, and access as well as their use for teaching and exhibitions.

Known for leading the Downtown Collection initiative at NYU, Taylor discusses the methodology of building key resources for art historical research and scholarship.

The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984, Ed. Marvin Taylor, Princeton University Press, 2005.

July 20, 2012

A visit to the home of choreographer Muna Tseng and the estate of her brother, artist Tseng Kwong Chi. Discussion led by Dipti Desai.
Location: The Estate of Tseng Kwong Chi

This video documents a special tour and Q&A at the Estate of Tseng Kwong Chi with Muna Tseng, moderated by Dipti Desai.

Tseng Kwong Chi (born 1950, Hong Kong; died 1990, New York) is internationally known for his photographic Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series a.k.a. East Meets West. In over 100 images, he poses in front of iconic architecture, dressed in a classic Mao suit, as his invented artistic persona — a Chinese “Ambiguous Ambassador”. Tseng was also an important documentarian and denizen of the downtown 1980s New York club and art scene. He created more than 100,000 color and black-and-white photographs of his contemporaries Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel,
Jean-Michel Basquiat, McDermott and McGough, Kenny Scharf, Philip Taaffe, Madonna, Grace Jones, the B-52’s, and Fab Five Freddy, among others. The Estate’s collection includes over 75,000 photographs and slides and numerous publications on the artist.

July 21, 2012

A Lecture with Tomie Arai
Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

This video documents a lecture by Tomie Arai for the summer institute, where she discusses her work as community-based social practice that explores themes of displacement, migration, hybridity, and cultural history.

Arai is a printmaker and installation artist who has worked collaboratively with diverse communities for over two decades. Her collaborative work includes projects with Vietnamese and Cambodian youth in South Philadelphia; Chicano and Asian artists from Little Tokyo and East Los Angeles; prints about the internment experience of Japanese Americans on the Pima and Colorado River Indian reservations in Arizona during World War II; a mural memorializing the discovery of an African Burial Ground in New York City; and installations about the emerging community of Chinese Latinos in Miami.

Chang, Alexandra. Envisioning Diaspora: Asian American Visual Arts Collectives (2008; pp. 54-56; 171-172)

Machida, Margo. Unsettled Visions: Contemporary Asian American Artists and the Social Imaginary (2009)

July 21, 2012

A Lecture with Jaishri Abichandani
Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

This video documents a lecture with Jaishri Abichandani on her art and her work in arts activism in New York and internationally.

Born in Bombay, India, Jaishri Abichandani immigrated to New York City in 1984. Abichandani has continued to intertwine art and activism in her career, founding and leading the important South Asian women’s Creative Collective in New York and London since 1997.

She has exhibited her work internationally and has curated exhibitions including Fatal Love: South Asian American Art Now and Queens International 2006 Everything All at Once, Stargazers, Her Stories, Sultana’s Dream, Exploding the Lotus, Artists in Exile, Shapeshifters and Aliens, Anomalies and Transitional Aesthetics.


July 23, 2012

“The Art of Cosmopolitanism: Contemporary Asian American Art”
Seminar Lecture conducted by Alexandra Chang, Curator of Special Projects and Director of Global Arts Programs, A/P/A Institute, NYU
Location: SCA Conference Room, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor


This video documents a seminar lecture with Alexandra Chang and looks at post-1990s Asian American art, exploring transcultural flows of art production and artists. Chang investigates international artist collectives and artistic production as they relate to theories of globalism. Examples are drawn from a range of post-1990s artists and collectives including Tomokazu Matsuyama, Godzilla, The New Grand Tour, and Tomato Grey. Readings related to this session explore ideas of art and diaspora, transculturality, hybridity, localism, cosmopolitanism, and globalism and its critiques.

Chang, Alexandra. Envisioning Diaspora: Asian American Visual Arts Collectives (2008; pp. 96-162)

Machida, Margo. Unsettled Visions: Contemporary Asian American Artists and the Social Imaginary (2009; pp. 17-25, 46-49, 194-199)

Wolfgang Welsch’s “Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today” in the edited volume Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World (1999, pp.194-213)

Modernity at Large by Arjun Appadurai (2008, pp. 1-23; 178-199)

July 23, 2012

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

This video documents a lecture and Q&A with Chinese American artist Zhang Hongtu during a visit to this home and studio in Queens.

Zhang is known for his “Pop Mao” work created after the 1989 student protests as well as his involvement with New York Asian Diasporic art scene and Chinese artists who moved here in 1989. Zhang addresses the themes of hybridity and agency in his work as well as in Asian American art, more generally and engage in a discussion with the participants.

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