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Tracing Asian Migration to the Americas
through AMA’s Collection

Opening Reception: June 13, 2013 at 6pm

On View: June 13, 2013 - January 4, 2014

AMA ׀ Art Museum of the Americas
201 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Hours Tuesday - Sunday | 10 AM - 5 PM

Through AMA’s permanent collection, one of the most vital sources of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art in the United States, this exhibition examines and generates a dialogue about cultural diversity. This is accomplished by exploring the migration of artists or their families to the Americas from Asia during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.  By addressing the multiple layers of cultural exchange, this exhibition aims to enhance understanding of the complex nature of modern Latin American and Caribbean societies. Tied to OAS values, and a selection of its observer countries, this exhibition promotes the cultural diversity of and migration to the Americas and initiates an exchange of contributions that this multiculturalism has generated.

As Latin American studies scholars Mario Margulis and Birgitta Leander point out, in Latin America and the Caribbean “the fusion of different ethnicities is extremely important and gives rise to new cultural phenomena... such as in language, arts, ideas, values, and beliefs.”

Providing a deeper understanding of the works within AMA’s collection, the exhibition will illustrate the convergence of the multiple cultural elements that make up the artist’s identity and what impact – or lack thereof – these elements have on his or her works. 

The exhibition will discuss migration of Asian peoples, including Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian immigrants. Labor shortages of the mid-1800s through the 1930s drew workers from Asia. The exhibition will show how these various groups arrived to the Americas, integrated into local societies, and impacted the visual arts in their new countries: Brazil, Peru, Cuba, Suriname, Argentina, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Artists include Japanese-Brazilian Tomie Ohtake who uses gestural strokes that echo calligraphic styles, Cuba’s Wifredo Lam who is of Chinese ancestry, and Suriname’s Seoki Irodikromo who clearly portrays his Indonesian heritage in his works.

AMA’s collection reflects the multi-layered cultural composition of Latin American and Caribbean societies. By engaging with the wide cultural spectrum represented by these artworks, viewers will gain a richer understanding of modern art and culture of the Americas.