Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Call for Asian American artists to exhibit during AAPI Heritage Month
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Call for Asian American artists to exhibit during AAPI Heritage Month

Kate Agathon is organizing an exhibit in Indiana for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Kate Agathon, a grad school instructor at Purdue University and producer for photographer William L. Snyder (who took the portrait above, which was used originally on in a profile of Kate), is taking on a big art project and she needs your help. She’s organizing a show called “ImaginAsian,” and inviting anyone who is interested in submitting artwork to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, to get the art by Feb. 28.

You don’t have to be an “arteest.” You just need to fit an image or statement about the Asian American experience into an 8 1/2×11″ space, and submit it with a mere $5 donation as an entry fee. The project is a fundraiser for Purdue’s Asian American studies department, which is just getting started.

The exhibit will be on display at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation in West Lafayette, Indiana, from April 2-May 9.

Agathon explains the concept very eloquently:

Basically, I am asking anyone who is interested in creating art in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2010! Here is an opportunity for people to create art celebrating the history and contributions of Asian Pacific Americans, donate to a good cause, and have their artwork publicly displayed at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation in West Lafayette, IN this spring.

The exhibition is intended to raise awareness and understanding of the Asian American community as articulated through a variety of art including photography, visual, and literary. For $5 donation, people can submit a piece of art (8.5 x 11″) to the exhibit that will be displayed along with all the other contributions.The art will be placed into hanging frames, so it must be flat. During the time the exhibit is displayed, people will be able to bid on pieces in a silent auction. All proceeds go towards the IU and Purdue libraries to purchase Asian American materials.

For celebrity contributors who donated two pieces of art, the $5 fee is waived. One piece is used for the auction and the other is part of a permanent collection, that is intended to travel. Much like the “commUNITY” photo exhibition I produced, it is intended to travel to promote Asian American awareness.

I am overseeing every aspect of this endeavor myself – there is no team. From soliciting art donations, to keeping track of donations – all me. When I embarked on this last summer, I had hoped to get more help promoting the event from IU and even here at Purdue, but it did not happen. That is why your help and support is invaluable! To me, the cause and promoting awarness is the most important thing. Even if a small amount of money is raised, a remarkable collection of art capturing a slice of contemporary Asian America will be available.

Having a strong Asian American Studies program at Purdue is long overdue. We need to engage the students and community through projects like this. The Asian American Network of Indiana will purchase the frames using what remains of their funding. The art will be curated by myself and the executive director of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, Tetia Lee.

ImaginAsian will run April 2- May 9, 2010. It will coincide with “New Communities: A Symposium on Exploring, Challenging, and Negotiating Contemporary Asian American Identity” that I am chairing on campus on April 13, 2010. It will feature a mix of academics and stakeholders in the Asian American community including: Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Jinah Kim (Northwestern), Karen Su (UIC), Melanie
Castillo-Cullather (IU), David Chich (UIUC), Jason Lee (Turtlist Media), Bich Minh Nguyen (Purdue), Debra Kang Dean (IU), Kelly Zen-YieTsai, Ryan Suda, Phil Yu, Kent Ono (UIUC) and Vincent Pham (UIUC).

Please consider participating in this endeavor and join writer Maxine Hong Kingston, Congressman Mike Honda, director Michael Kang, writer Lac Su, and other stakeholders in the Asian American community.

Send your artwork to:

Kate Agathon
1809 Bengal Place
Lafayette, IN 47909

Checks made payable to the Asian American Network of Indiana are welcome. The Asian American Network of Indiana is a not-for- profit organization. All gifts are tax exempt. For more information, contact Agathon at