A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history
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Why artasiamerica.org?

Asian American Arts Centre has been developing and accumulating AAAC Artist Archive since 1982. The archive documents, preserves, and promotes the presence of Asian American culture in the United States since 1945. Possibly the largest historical archive on Asian American artists in the US, it consists of biographical materials, publications, statements as well as samples of works. In order to make this historical archive accessible to the public globally, AAAC has begun the process of digitizing portions of it into a web-accessible format. Named artasiamerica, it enables access to primary materials that compose the story of such artists and their historical presence in the US. The Archive project has focused on those artists exhibited at AAAC who signaled key themes by giving expression to what has become the substance and the subject of Asian American art. This will enable a memory and reflection upon individual Asian artists in a world largely bereft of such images. This digital resource may document precedents to artists working today, demonstrating the historical significance of this subject. Through the Cold War period and its aftermath, visual artists may continue to provide glimpses of a viable cultural path.

The more extended reply to this question can be found in the written statement by the Director of AAAC: Notes on the Archive: An Introduction by Robert Lee

Who runs this website? Is artasiamerica.org an organization?

artasiamerica.org is a digital archive created by Asian American Arts Centre, Inc. It presents portions of AAAC Artist Archive--the physical archive consisting currently of approximately 1,500 artists entries, located in Chinatown in New York City. The materials in the AAAC Artist Archive may be available by appointment and on a sliding scale fee depending on current status of office conditions. For more information, see: Contact and Visitor Information

What is Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) & its history?

The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) is a non-profit organization located in Chinatown in New York City. Founded in 1974, it was one of the early Asian American community organizations in the United States. The Arts Centre presents the ongoing synthesis of contemporary American and Asian art forms, utilizing performance, exhibition, and public education. Its original artists slide archive started in 1982, and has developed an archive of over 1,500 visual artists--most of whom have exhibited at AAAC. More information can be found here.

I'm an artist. How can I become part of the physical/digital archive?

The physical archive, AAAC Artist Archive, is a permanent historical archive focusing on Asian/Asian American artists in the USA & artists significantly influenced by Asia from the post WWII era to the present. It is not a registry and does not function as a registry. The small group of artists who currently appear in the digital archive, artasiamerica.org, are those who have had an important relationship with AAAC, and who have been key in exemplifying the subject and the issues of Asian American art and the issues of diversity in America in the past 60 years. Artists who are interested in entry into the physical archive--AAAC Artists Archive, see: http://artspiral.org/archive.html

Can I download images here for my own use?

See: Use of Image

Does the artist retain the copyright to artworks?

Yes, artists retain all rights in their original artwork unless copyright is sold or donated to a collector or an organization. Images on artasiamerica are displayed under the permission of artists or representatives, and it does not alter the copyright.

For more information, visit: Use of Image

How are materials selected for the artasiamerica.org? How extensive are additional materials in the physical archive--AAAC Artist Archive?

Artists materials are selected from the extensive materials gathered in the physical archive--AAAC Artist Archive. They are selected to present the broadest possible background of the artist and the artwork, but are limited by the number of documents that can be presented and by what is available in the collection. To see the physical materials that are contained for the artists in artasiamerica.org, see the container list in our Finding Aid.

How can I consult the original images and documents on artasiamerica?

The materials in AAAC Artist Archive may be seen by appointment based on a sliding scale fee. Availability for such visits depends on the status of current conditions. For more information, see: Contact and Visitor Information.

All these documents and artworks have categorical terms about materials, subjects, etc. associated with them. Where did these terms come from?

Keywords for "Materials", "Techniques", "Style/Period", and "Subject" are mostly controlled vocabularies according to professional archive/library standards. AAAC ensures to provide of researchers a high-quality research tool. These thesauri include: AAT (Art & Architecture Thesaurus), ULAN (Union List of Artist Names), and TGN (Thesaurus of Geographic Names). If a term does not exist in these thesauri, it is entered as a local subject term.

How are artist culture terms defined? (e.g. Asian American, Chinese, Japanese American, etc.) Is that ethnicity?

Multiple cultural terms for an artist are determined from his/her ethnicity background, 'identity', as well as cultures that they are influenced by. They are often defined from the time that they exhibited with AAAC, or more recently when they were in contact AAAC. Identity is a fluid subjective category and its changes are difficult to reflect. Their sequence reflects primary to secondary terms. Their selection may reflect AAAC's view and/or the artist's perception.

What was the Milieu project and who is a Milieu artist?

In 1986 the Arts Centre 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 selected, and extensive research was conducted for many of them, including many from the West Coast. Some artists were interviewed in their native language. While some of these interviews were transcribed, some were not, and exist only in their original format. Many have extensive documents, audio and video tapes, and other materials in their files, now to be found in AAAC Artist Archive.

Who built the digital archive and the website?

The archiving software and the website was designed and programmed by SUPERMETRIC, a strategic design and development company in New York. You can contact them at anyone@supermetric.com.