The equivocal history of Asian American art presents a challenge for scholars envisioning its future directions. The field and its subjects oscillate between obscurity and hypervisibility, the latter often emerging from moments of crisis facing Asian communities in America. For Asian American art history to stake a larger claim on the future, it must shatter the many disciplinary, political, and economic boundaries that both prescribe its categorization and relegate it to a minor position. How can scholars of Asian American art move beyond identity-based interpretations to resist the limits of established categorizations, and open up new fields of inquiry? In attending to Asian American art’s global and diasporic dimensions, its interdisciplinary resonances across literature and cultural studies, and confrontations with legacies of racialization and colonization, how does the field of Asian American art challenge normative narratives of art history and modernity itself?
The Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI), established in 2021 at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, marks a significant new effort dedicated to the research, collection, and exhibition of works by Asian American and Asian diaspora artists. In this event, we will hear from founding co-directors of the AAAI, Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Assistant Curator of American art at the Cantor, and Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University, on their significant effort to preserve artworks and archives in the face of institutional racism, and the development of Asian American art history. The conversation will be moderated by Alexandra Chang, director of the Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange and Virtual Asian American Art Museum with the A/P/A Institute at NYU and Associate Professor at Rutgers University-Newark.