For decades, Manhattan’s Chinatown has been a home for socially engaged art movements and collectives. In this critical moment of arts organizing, both against injustices in the art world and towards larger political questions like gentrification and immigration, this historical archive is vital. This video documents a series of presentations and a group discussion on the history of Asian American art collectives in New York, from the seventies to the present. Margo Machida, Professor Emeritus of Art History and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut and a founding member of Godzilla: Asian American Arts Network, outlines the rise of an Asian American arts movement and the turn toward transnationalism. Artist Bing Lee, a founding member of Godzilla and EPOXY Art Group, discusses his involvement in EPOXY and Tomato Grey. Writer and cultural organizer Ryan Lee Wong, who has been conducting research on these histories, introduces the program and presents an overview of Asian American arts collectives from Godzilla to the present.
Bing Lee is a visual artist based in New York. Lee’s works have been exhibited in art festivals, galleries and museums internationally. Lee established the Bing Lee Studio in 1990, and has been commissioned to design and install site-specific public art projects, including the Canal Street Subway Station in New York City, the Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee, Kowloon Tong Station in Hong Kong, Townsend Harris High School, Public School 88 & Public School 242 public schools in New York. Lee is the recipient of several awards including Fulbright Program, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Lee is founding member of Tomato Grey, Godzilla-Asian American Arts Network, Epoxy Art Group in New York, and Visual Art Society in Hong Kong.
Dr. Margo Machida is Professor Emeritus of Art History and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut. Born and raised in Hawai’i, she is a scholar, independent curator, and activist cultural critic specializing in Asian American art and visual culture. Her book, Unsettled Visions: Contemporary Asian American Artists and the Social Imaginary (Duke University Press, 2009) received the Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. She is an Associate Editor of the international journal, Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (Brill).
Ryan Lee Wong is a writer and cultural organizer based in Brooklyn. He is the Managing Director at Kundiman, and a Visiting Scholar at the A/P/A Institute at NYU. He archives and organizes exhibitions on social movements, most recently, Roots: Asian American Movements in Los Angeles 1968-80s. His writing has appeared in The Offing, The Village Voice, T Magazine, and Hyperallergic.