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underCurrents & the Quest for Space is a multidisciplinary arts exhibition and discussion investigating the space occupied by Asian America, socially, artistically and physically. Asian American artists exhibit work that detonates a discourse on the under‐discussed issues impacting Asian Americans, interrogates the myth of “model minority,” and acknowledges the multiple ways contemporary Asian American communities address and subvert stereotypes, discrimination and invisibility. This multimedia, multidisciplinary arts exhibition aims to identify and contemplate the political implications of what lies below the surface, while exploring possibilities to move beyond, reinventing history and artistically predicting an unrestrained future.

In partnership with Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC), an organization that supports and produces multidisciplinary art reflective of the unique experiences of Asian Pacific Islanders living in the United States. underCurrents is featured as part of APICC’s 16th Annual United States of Asian America Festival.


Asian Americans occupy a unique position in the annals of American history with the distinction as the only group relegated to the status as perpetual “other” consequently and simultaneously demonized and idealized. Consider all the latent implications of who are Asian Americans today. Many outside of the Asian American community will conjure up a mixture of preconceived assumptions with words like “model minority” exploding into consciousness. The problematic myth implying perfection causes many Asian Americans to feel a disproportionate pressure to succeed while conversely experiencing continued disenfranchisement and institutional racism.

The notion of a model minority is one of the persistent themes as seen in the work of several artists participating in the current show. The intended aim of underCurrents is not to present a neatly packaged exhibition but rather to rattle the notion of anyone’s expectations of Asian American artists. Artists often serve as a social barometer inciting change and awareness. The individual artist’s expressions of empowerment deviate from and shatter stereotypes, reclaiming the very definition of Asian American. The second part of the title proposes to build a critical mass redirecting the future trajectory of Asian American art into spaces specifically dedicated to the promotion of all Asian American art.

Exhibition Dates

May 2nd ‐ 25th, 2013

Opening Reception: 

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 5pm ‐ 8pm


Linda Inson Choy, specializes in international Asian and Asian American art


Jay Xu, Director and CEO of The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, and Mary‐Ann Milford, Professor of Art History, Mills College, Oakland



Salma Arastu | Jung Ran Bae | Michele Benzamin‐Miki | Manon Bogerd‐Wada | Mitsuko Brooks | Karen Chew | Samantha Chundur | Shari Arai DeBoer | Reiko Fujii | Kate Hers | Julie Thi Underhill | Dao Strom | Zilka Joseph | Kay Kang | Miyang Kim | Alexandra Lee | Mido Lee | Brenda Louie | Li Ma | Choppy Oshiro | Isabelle Thuy Pelaud | Yoshie Sakai | Pallavi Sharma | Cindy Shih | Judy Shintani | Shizue Seigel | Valerie Soe | Cynthia Tom | Laura Wong | Leslie Zeitler | Stella Zheng | Xiaojie Zheng


Poetry Reading: Navigating the underCurrents, Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 7:00 ‐ 8:30 PM

Curator: May-Lee Chai, Bay Area author and international journalist

Poetry reading inspired and surrounded by the exhibition’s socio‐political visual artworks. Activist poets read their original poems in reaction to specific art pieces, challenging the status quo and proposing new aesthetic spaces. The reading, which took place in front of the art piece that inspired each poet, questions our concepts and assumptions of gender, race, class, nationality, and the constructed femininity used to silence Asian American women throughout history.

Featured Poets: Amy K. Bell | Susan Calvillo | Ploy Pirapokin | Shobha Rao | Shizue Seigel | Bory Thach | Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Performance: Threads in Unbound Kimonos, performance, Saturday, May 18, 4:00 – 5:00 PM

Panel Discussion: Saturday, May 25th, 2013 1:00 – 3:00 PM