Artist and community activist Tomie Arai (b.1949- ) has been working as an artist in the New York City area since the 1960s, and together with Legan Wong (b.1951- ) has been involved with the New York-based Asian American cultural movement since the 1970s. The Tomie Arai and Legan Wong Papers document Asian American arts and cultural organizations in New York including Cityarts Workshop, Basement Workshop, and Godzilla Asian American Arts Network.
This collection contains exhibition catalogs and ephemera accumulated by Arai and Wong which primarily focused on New York-based Asian American artists active during the 1970s to the early 2000s. Some of the publications and posters in the collection are bilingual in English and either Japanese, Korean, or Chinese.
Arai’s work as an artist is documented in this collection through exhibition promotional material, original drawings, printwork created for publications and community organizations, correspondence, and project files. Materials from Arai’s early life and family include Arai’s elementary and high school memorabilia from the 1960s and items related to the family’s incarceration during World War II such as original artwork by Arai’s uncle, Unosuke Sasaki, created during his period of incarceration at the Topaz Relocation Center, a concentration camp in Utah.This collection also includes materials created and collected by Legan Wong documenting his creation of college courses on the Asian American experience in the 1970s as well as a small amount of material related to his music production work with East West World Records in the 1980s. Items related to Wong’s participation in the Asian Tactical Theater, Soh Daiko, and an Asian American Softball League team in New York are also included.
To learn more about the contents of the Tomie Arai and Legan Wong Papers, located at the NYU Fales Library & Special Collections, view the collection’s finding aid.