Asian American Women Artists You Should Know About
By: Elisa Gyotoku
So many artists, so little time. A few members of the AAWAA staff are here to help expand your artist pool!
Cynthia Tom – Visual Artist, Community Activist, Arts Organizer and AAWAA Board President
“MANON BOGERD WADA for her the family explorations in her work and technical expertise”.
“NANCY HOM for continuing to grow and shift the mediums she works with as well as the themes…always focused on community”.
”KAY KANG for her dedication to her Korean female heritage and combination of abstract techniques, Asian calligraphic imagery and color”.
“SHARI ARAI DEBOER for her dedication to intensely perfect printmaking techniques, beauty of execution and subject matter, attention to ethnic sensibilities and ever expanding use of new materials.
Melanie Elvena – Programs Manager
“BERNICE BING…When I was younger, I was really drawn to works from Abstract Expressionism – the splatters of paint, the bold strokes of color, the grand canvasses – the paintings were very exciting for me. It wasn’t until AAWAA that I learned about one of its early members, Bernice Bing, through a film we helped produce in 2013. She was a bad ass artist in her day – queer, female, and Asian American. A talented Beat-era painter with her large-scale and colorful canvasses often depicting California landscapes, Bingo also did great work for the community. She helped young Asian American boys off the streets of Oakland Chinatown by teaching them art, helped form SCRAP (SF’s first creative reuse center), and was the first Executive Director of SOMArts Cultural Center. A shaker and maker ahead of her time, I’m really inspired by Bing”.
“CATHY C. LU…I just bought some of her watercolor prints! Her work explores Asian American identity with a focus on culture and gender. Cathy’s watercolors tend to illustrate packs of Asian female characters playing, almost engulfing landscapes of sometimes detached body parts and other times decaying fruits. I find the pieces empowering, as if Asian American girls are literally tearing down gender and body standards! I also really like Cathy’s ceramic sculptures of rotting Asian fruit. From afar, they seem perfect but once you look closely you see the bright red decaying flesh beneath. For me, Cathy’s work is the perfect mix of creepy and delicate with a dash of whimsy”.
Diana Li, Marketing & Communications Intern
“AHREE LEE is one of the artists on my radar. She recently showed at the Asian Art Museum with a work called Your Piece where folks could submit a photo of themselves and the exhibited projection showed a collage of everyone’s faces based on a data algorithm. On the other side, was another projection of footage from CAAM’s Memories to Light archive formed into a kaleidoscope effect. A couple themes I’m really drawn to in her work is how “the self” and “the other” work in relationship with each other and is conceptualized both outside and inside community spaces.
“I get really excited inside whenever I see VALERIE SOE around at community events in San Francisco. I first saw her piece, “All Orientals Look the Same” in my Asian American Cinema class during undergrad where we discussed how the piece showcases the ethnic diversity of Asian Americans opposing the generalizing white assumption that we all look the same. Since I work in video, this really inspired me to create a mental foundation and inventory of Asian American video artists”.