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 About AAWAA

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MENTORSHIP. VISIBILITY. ADVOCACY.

Our mission is to advance the visibility and recognition of Asian American women in the arts.

Through exhibitions, publications, public programs and an informative website, AAWAA is an accessible resource and portal for educators academics, researchers, arts and social justice communities and the general public.

Based in San Francisco, AAWAA has consistently promoted both local and national efforts to achieve its mission, defining and redefining the contributions of Asian American women artists since its founding in 1989 by noted regional artists Betty Kano and Flo Oy Wong along with Mills College professor Moira Roth and artist Bernice Bing. Established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2007, AAWAA has evolved from a close-knit community organization into a respected producer of consistent high-quality multidisciplinary art exhibitions, community art projects, publications, and programming reaching diverse local and national audiences.

 
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HISTORY

Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by Betty Kano, Flo Oy Wong, and Moira Roth to promote the visibility of Asian American women artists and to serve as a vehicle for personal expression with a view of Asian American cultures and history from women’s perspectives.

Over the years AAWAA has encouraged dialogue across cultures and generations and built community among Asian American women artists through exhibitions, educational materials, publications, readings, and talks. By educating art establishments that have historically excluded works by Asian American women artists, including major museums, galleries, collections and publications, AAWAA has provided access to these venues and furthers the goal of establishing the place of Asian American women in American art history. AAWAA has both exhibited and or lectured at the de Young Museum, College Art Association, UC Berkeley, SF State University, Stanford University, Driftwood Gallery, SOMArts Cultural Center, Chinese Culture Center and more.

AAWAA was guided to non-profit status in 2007. Since then, AAWAA has continued to expand its audience, growing from a mostly inward facing group of artist members to an outward reaching arts organization, partnering with numerous local and national organizations such as Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Asia Society of Northern California, Center for Asian American Media, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. 

In 2017, AAWAA established its archives with California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) at UC Santa Barbara

Leadership & Volunteer History

Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by Betty Kano, Flo Oy Wong, and Moira Roth. Since then, AAWAA has been a home for artists, organizers and volunteers dedicated to advancing the visibility of Asian American women in the arts.

In 2007, AAWAA was guided to nonprofit status under the leadership of Debbie Yee and Nancy Hom.

From 2008 to 2015, Cynthia Tom and Shari Arai DeBoer were at the helm of a working board, managing AAWAA’s strategy and programs. Board members Cristal Fiel and Beverly Quintana were instrumental in developing AAWAA’s organizational structure. Staff members Vivian Truong and Khay Hembrador were ace program coordinators and multi-taskers.

In 2013, Melanie Elvena and Michelle A. Lee joined the organization as volunteers. Since then they have become an integral part of AAWAA. Melanie Elvena is now a Programs and Social Media Manager and Michelle A. Lee is now a curator and Board Member. A year later, Diana Li joined AAWAA as an intern, and is now a project coordinator and Board Member.

In 2016, AAWAA hired the organization’s first Executive Director, Suzanne Tan, later followed by Susie Kagami in 2017. Both have steered AAWAA’s new leadership role.

With the help of volunteer, Kimi Taira, AAWAA established its archives with California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) at UC Santa Barbara in 2017.

Learn more about AAWAA through the years on our Chronology.
Find out about the Staff & Board who make this work possible.