Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | art
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Here are several reasons to attend this Friday's very cool "Language of the Journey - Through the Eyes of Artists" fundraiser for the Asian Pacific Development Center. First, the project is a showcase of artists at Metro State College's Department of Art, led by professor Carlos Fresquez, one of Denver's most talented veteran painters and muralists. The art reception includes over...

Kip Fulbeck is a mixed-race artist and performer Photo by Suzanne Bernel Think of it as a racial mashup. We're living in an era when the President of the United States is multiracial, and we're changing our perspectives on ethnic identity -- especially what it means to be Asian American. We're moving beyond single cultural identification. Many of us are connected to our ethnic heritage and add the layer of American culture. Hence, I'm both Japanese American and Asian American. In addition, the richness of mixed-race America is going to continue to have a huge impact on the U.S. in the future. For example, the Asian American community of the future will be a multicultural tapestry with a bright thread of mixed-race Asians. In the Japanese American population, the mixed-race fabric is already very evident -- since the 1970s, JAs have married outside our own community more than any other group. So we've been familiar with the term "hapa" for decades. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to call mixed-race JAs "ai noko," which literally translates as "love child," or maybe "hafu" ("half"), and she would say it disparagingly (sadly, she's not PC at all). Likewise, "hapa" is a Hawai'ian term that means "partial" -- and it was used originally in a derogatory way, for "hapa haole," or "half-white." Although I know people who are offended by the use of the word hapa, it's become a common term for mixed-race people of all ethnicities, not just Asians. I've heard it used within the black and Hispanic communities. Because of the importance of the mixed-race AAPI community, Erin and I are proud to announce our next interview for visualizAsian.com: Kip Fulbeck, an artist, author, performer, slam poet and....uh, professor! Kip’s ethnic background is Cantonese, English, Irish, and Welsh, and he's nationally known for his exploration of mixed-race identity. Our conversation with Kip Fulbeck will be on Tuesday, July 21 at 6 pm PT (9 pm ET).

Asian Americans are finally showing up in American pop culture at large, but Asian American fine artists are still mostly invisible. Only a few have had notable -- or rather, noted -- careers in the art world. When I was an art student, I didn't think much of my heritage. You might say it was my "Banana Period." As an artist, I didn't appreciate my ethnicity, even when I was included in a group show of Japanese artists and my painting was bought by a famous playwright (keep reading below). I simply didn't identify myself as an Asian American artist. I was simply an artist, and the art I made was informed by my 8th grade art teacher, Julie Maiolo, my high school art teacher, Jay Filson, and all my professors (especially color theorist Mary Buckley), as well as the art history teachers and books I soaked up. Which meant my awareness of art was all Euro-centric. In all of that art history and theory, what I knew of Asia in art was that calligraphy was beautiful, ink painting was hard but similar in process to watercolor, and that Japanese woodblocks inspired the French Impressionists that I loved so much. So it's understandable that I assumed any artist with an Asian name was Asian, not Asian American. For instance, for years I thought the sculptor Isamu Noguchi was Japanese, even though he was born in Los Angeles. But now, the hidden history of Asian American artists is finally getting a jump start, thanks to two projects. First is the first extensive exhibition of Asian American artists, "Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970," curated by the de Young Museum, part of the San Francisco Fine Art Museum (there's a companion book available). The exhibit opened in October, and runs through late January. Then the work moves to the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City near New York. Second is the publication of "Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970," by Stanford University Press.