In 2006, one of a number of grants from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) to cultural organizations in Lower Manhattan's Chinatown area post 9.11, enabled us to start the process of digitizing the first group of artists, chosen from over 1,500 files in the AAAC Artist Archive. This picture of the creative presence of Asians in the USA now sees the light of day and is accessible to a national and international public.
Launched in summer 2009, its main emphasis for the next few years will continue to be artists participating in Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) exhibition program in New York City since 1983 to the present. Artists who have been key for AAAC in exemplifying the subject of Asian American art and the issues that embody the question of diversity in America during the past 60 years are priority for the selection process. artasiamerica will also include an exhibition history section that introduces a timeline of the history of Asian American artists and their relationships with AAAC in the past 30 years.
Distinguished from other related digital archives, artasiamerica specializes in Asian American visual culture --artists whose Asian background could have roots in Afghanistan to the Hawaiian Islands both north and south of the equator, and also American artists who are significantly influenced by Asia.
In complying with emerging practices for digital archives, controlled authoritative vocabularies for art and architecture, geographical locations, and artist names, have been ensuring compatibility with professional libraries and search engines wherever they may be.
In addition to its function as a research tool, artasiamerica will serve as an invitation to all to simply explore and enjoy Asian American art, an account that can be engaged however a reader wishes to enter, without beginning or end. Each artist is a part of a larger story, a historical context of events and issues both artistic and sociological and political. By looking at contemporary art in a historical framework, artistic questions can be raised, and larger questions not only about Asians in the USA but about America itself can come to light. Both artists and audience will benefit from a resource of this kind, which has never been available before.
AAAC began the Asian American Artists' Slide Archive in 1982. Artist vertical files have been developed and accumulated as a permanent research archive documenting the history of Asian Pacific American Artists in the United States since 1945 to the present. In 2007, the Arts Centre restored and processed its collected materials into a professional archival environment for long-term preservation. The Archive presently contains not only slides but also a variety of materials that are both primary and secondary sources, for approximately 1,500 artists.
In 1986, AAAC created a research project with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation called the "Milieu" series to focus on Asian American artists from the post World War era 1945 to 1965, to contextualize them and their artwork within this historical setting, and to provide a historical precedent for the cultural presence of young Asian American artists. About ninety artists who began their career from 1945 to 1965 were found, and extensive research including interviews in their native language was conducted for some of them. Of these, several were exhibited by AAAC in its Milieu exhibition series.
To see the list of selected artist files in the physical archive, see: The Finding Aid.
To see the list of all artists who have entry in vertical files at AAAC, see: AAAC Artist Archive Listing
To visit the physical archive, see: Contact and Visitor Information.