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  • Wendy Nanan | Cultural Encounters

    Wendy Nanan (Trinidad and Tobago, b. 1955) “She draws on her femininity as embodied experience, her ethnicity that has communicated her own cultural messages, her place and time of birth—Trinidad 1955—her artistic training and exposure to Trinidad and the United Kingdom, and a personalized spirituality that is assembled from multiple influences.” — Patricia Mohammed Wendy Nanan was born in Port of Spain to an Indian family. Though raised in a Presbyterian household, she was able to absorb Hindu culture and ritual through her extended family. Her artistic training took her to England—first to Manchester Polytechnic, then to Wolverhampton Polytechnic, where she earned her BFA in painting in 1979. Returning to Trinidad and Tobago in the 1980s, Nanan struggled to find her place as an Indian woman artist, at a time when Trinidadian women were expected to focus on motherhood rather than a professional career. ​ Upon completion of her BFA in painting, Nanan discovered an urge to construct with her hands and has worked in papier-mâché ever since, creating three-dimensional pieces into which she sometimes incorporates found or readymade objects. A frequent subject of her work is daily life in postcolonial Trinidad and Tobago, which—despite gaining its independence from the UK in 1962—still maintains a number of colonialist norms and traditions. Other subjects include the multicultural richness of Trinidad and Tobago, and her own femininity. ​ In her piece Baby Krishna , Nanan assembled three papier-mâché blue Krishnas with wings, each carrying different objects. The work deals with the cross-pollination of cultures that is a daily phenomenon on the islands. For instance, the scholar Patricia Mohammed notes that in Hinduism, blue is the color of infinity—hence its use to represent Indian deities—but also that blue is traditionally used in Trinidad to depict darker-skinned South Asian Dravidian people. The wings of Nanan’s Krishnas, meanwhile, are borrowed from the angels of Christian tradition. The first of her Krishnas holds in one hand an enameled tin cup of tea, and in the other doubles (a Trinidadian street sandwich made of flat bread and curried garbanzos). The second Krishna holds a green map of Trinidad with red marks and the sign of om, and the third carries the islands’ national bird (the scarlet ibis) on one hand and a doll in the other. Nanan is one of the most important living women artists in Trinidad and Tobago. She has exhibited throughout the world, despite living a largely private and isolated life. back to collection

  • Copia de Flora Fong | Cultural Encounters

    Flora Fong back to collection

  • Collections | Cultural Encounters

    collections Japan - Peru Japan - Brazil Japan - Argentina Japan - Mexico China - Jamaica China - Cuba China - Panama China - Suriname China - Trinidad & Tobago India - Guyana India - suriname India - Trinidad & Tobago Indonesia - suriname

  • Richard Fung | Cultural Encounters

    Richard Fung (Trinidad and Tobago, b. 1954) Fung was born into a Chino-Trinidadian household. His mother, the daughter of Chinese laborers who immigrated to Trinidad in the nineteenth century, is the subject of one of his video pieces, My Mother’s Place (1990), which examines her divided heritage. Fung’s family eventually moved to Toronto, where the artist now lives and works. Fung studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) and later took courses in film studies and sociology at the University of Toronto. Today, he is a well-established video artist and a professor at OCAD. ​ Fung’s video art focuses on issues of migration, race, and bigotry, sometimes drawing on his family’s experiences of diaspora and colonialism. In his video piece Islands (2002), he uses the John Huston film Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison to comment on racism and indentureship as part of the brutal legacy of colonialism. In the video, the artist reveals how the movie, set in 1944 in the Pacific, was in fact filmed in Tobago in 1956, using Trinidadian Chinese extras to play Japanese soldiers. He makes the case that his uncle is one of those extras. ​ Fung has published the book 13 Conversations about Art and Cultural Race Politics (2002), coedited with Monika Kin Gagnon. He has shown his videos in several exhibitions in Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, and Canada, as well as in Europe and Asia. In 2011, he exhibited at the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas in the exhibition Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions . back to collection

  • Samuel Rumaldo Choy | Cultural Encounters

    Samuel Rumaldo Choy (Panama, b. 1990) ​ Rumaldo Choy was born in 1990 in Panama City, to a Chinese-Panamanian family. His grandfather arrived at the port of Colón in Panama from Guangdong (Canton) in the 1930s, eventually supporting himself as a cook—a vocation that has left a deep impression on the Choy family, whose family events still revolve around Chinese dining traditions. These customs also appear as a vivid motif in Rumaldo Choy’s artwork. ​ A multifaceted artist, Rumaldo Choy works in photography, painting, installation, and graphic design, with an interest in Panama’s popular culture. He studied at the Universidad de Arte Ganexa and the Universidad Santa María de la Antigua. Raised in an extended family of multiethnic artists, Rumaldo Choy took the curatorial lead in creating the #PANACHINA project, inviting his cousins Manuel Choy, Cisco, and Rosendo Merel Choy—all part of this exhibition—in addition to some other young artists, to contribute work evocative of their experience as members of the panachina community in Panama. This project resulted in the groundbreaking #PANACHINA exhibition at the Atelier Teatro Amador in 2014; two years later, #PANACHINA was invited to participate as a collective at a group exhibition at the Museum de Arte Contemporáneo in Panama. Selected group members were then invited to join the 2017 exhibition Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. ​ For the #PANACHINA project, Rumaldo Choy has developed innovative work rooted in the traditions of Chinese food in Panama, exploring how this foreign cuisine and its customs have syncretized with local food traditions. A local maxim has it that “there is nothing more Panamanian than a Chinese breakfast.” In Pancho, the artist presents a typical Chinese “lazy Susan” that proffers both Chinese and Panamanian food, creating his own version of an authentic chino-panamanian meal. back to collection

  • Tomie Ohtake | Cultural Encounters

    Tomie Ohtake (Japan, b. 1913 – Brazil, d. 2015) Tomie Ohtake, née Nakakubo, was born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1913. While visiting her brother in São Paulo in 1936, war broke out between China and Japan, preventing her from returning home. Ohtake stayed in Brazil, became a mother, and in 1952 began her artistic career in earnest. That year, she was inspired by an exhibition of the work of Japanese painter Keisuke Sugano, who later became her teacher. Her first paintings experimented with figuration, but she soon focused her skills and energies on exploring abstraction. In 1953, she joined the influential Japanese-Brazilian artists’ group Seibi-Kai (Grupo de Artistas Plasticos de São Paulo). Ohtake describes her work as Western with Japanese influences, reflecting her adopted country as well as her homeland and artistic training. While her work resides firmly in the avant-garde of modern informalism, it is also in harmony with the traditional, minimalistic forms of Japanese painting and verse. According to Ohtake, her work exemplifies the philosophy of the haiku: “Haiku poems convey a view of the world in seventeen syllables. My painting also attempts to synthesize forms, reducing images to their essential minimum, and is therefore universal.” The unique process by which Ohtake blends and simplifies (often antipodal) forms creates an extraordinary visual realm in which her every informal gesture emerges as a constructive element, many of them rooted in Japanese calligraphic symbols such as ensō (“circle”), which appears frequently in her work. Some have described her brushstrokes as a “pure Zen experience.” Ohtake had two solo exhibitions at the Organization of the American States: one in 1968—her first solo exhibition in the United States—and the other in 1995. Besides her works on canvas, she is well known for her architectonic public sculptures. Tomie Ohtake of Brazil. OAS exhibition brochure, 1968 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Tomie Ohtake of Brazil. OAS exhibition brochure, 1968 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas 1/2 back to collection

  • Cultural Encounters: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & Caribbean

    China Peru Guyana Panama Jamaica Cuba Mexico Suriname Brazil Trinidad and Tobago India Indonesia Japan Argentina transpacific migration ASIAN MIGRATION TO LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN This map indicates the connection between points of origin and points of destination, but is not intended to illustrate travel routes. featured Collections Japan - Brazil ​ INDIA - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ​ China - Jamaica ​ INDONESIA - SURINAME ​ more >> Featured videos more >> Yukata Toyota ​ LAURA FONG PROPSER Featured artists Carlos Runcie Tanaka ​ Bernadette Persaud ​ WIFREDO LAM ​ Sri IrodiKromo more >>

  • Eduardo Tokeshi | Cultural Encounters

    Eduardo Tokeshi (Peru, b. 1960) Born in Lima to Japanese parents (Victor Tokeshi and Sara Namiza), Eduardo Tokeshi came into his own as an artist during the 1980s, a tumultuous time of armed conflict and political strife in his native Peru. As a Japanese-Peruvian, Tokeshi sees in himself two opposing, yet complementary, identities: a silent, ordered Japanese half coexisting with a chaotic Peruvian one. Describing his childhood, he evokes a sense of continual navigation between two separate worlds: “I always say that I was educated on the island of Okinawa, in the center of Lima.” Trained in architecture and city planning, and later in painting, Tokeshi has explored numerous media, styles, and themes. He has worked in paint, fabric, and found objects; created installations, book covers, and prints; and addressed themes as diverse as religion, family, violence, death, and the meaning of “homeland.” Unifying his oeuvre, however, is a sense of irony and playfulness, as well as a perpetual exploration of identity. A gifted draftsman, Tokeshi works as an illustrator and as a designer of theatrical scenery. In his studio, he displays for his own contemplation particularly iconic pieces of his own work, to serve as a visual record of his artistic development. One of his signature artistic practices involves his use of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made concepts. Tokeshi, in the view of some experts, utilizes a form of contemporary recycling, in which he repurposes ideas and objects from his everyday life, infusing them with new meaning. With regard to his Japanese and Peruvian worlds, he once noted in a conversation that he had found a way to juxtapose his two identities through artistic appropriation; an example being his artwork Las casitas de fe (altares) , which incorporates the Peruvian retablo (traditional, iconic, and folkloric wooden boxes that display religious or historic scenes) along with the Japanese butsudan—a Buddhist family altar found in Japanese households—an object that, in Tokeshi’s words, “is always present, can never miss.” As part of his extensive exhibition history, Tokeshi in 2003 exhibited in the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas’ main building gallery, and was featured prominently in the Getty’s esteemed Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of the Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City and São Paulo in 2017. Vida y milagros del hombre invisible. OAS exhibition brochure, 2003 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Vida y milagros del hombre invisible. OAS exhibition brochure, 2003 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas 1/2 back to collection

  • About the Exhibition | Cultural Encounters

    ABOUT THE EXHIBITION no ocean between us Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & the Caribbean, 1945 – Present The fusion of different ethnicities is extremely important and gives rise to new cultural phenomena, migrants contribute recognizable elements despite the passage of time, in aspects of daily life, language, arts, ideas, values, and beliefs. — Mario Margulis and Birgitta Leander The richly and multifaceted cultural fabric of Latin America and the Caribbean cannot be fully understood without considering the great variety of threads woven by migratory processes from East, South, and Southeast Asia. No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present , offers a fascinating glimpse of modern and contemporary art through an exploration of flows of migration from Japan, China, India, and Indonesia and the artistic impact in its host countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname. By framing artworks as active historical documents, artists in the exhibition reveal the multiple layers of complex and evolving cultural exchanges that have shaped the modern multiethnic societies of today. Although the initial Asian migration to Latin America and the Caribbean dates from the sixteenth century, it was not until the mid-eighteen century when it actively began due to labor shortages after the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean colonies in the 1830s. The new Latin American Republics, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico along with the Spanish, English, and Dutch empires imported Asian indentured servitude as a low wage force for agriculture in most cases. ​ The artists in the exhibition explore themes related to the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic crossings of their own or their ancestors underscoring the expansive cultural legacies and transcultural processes. No Ocean Between US departs from the Organization of American States | Art Museum of the Americas permanent art collection to map familial and personal journeys through which art shapes discourse, seeking to gain a greater understanding of processes of contact and exchange, colonization and decolonization, assimilation and preservation of culture. The artworks shown here engage with many aspects of a quasi-system of slavery and more contemporary forms of globalization. They examine the difficult circumstances of arduous migratory journeys, exploitation and discrimination on sugar and tobacco plantations, and racial persecutions. While many of the thousands of workers who came to Latin America and the Caribbean in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century returned to their countries of origin, others settled down in their new homelands with cultural diasporas that attracted new Asian migratory flows after World War II. The Visual Arts Department of the Organization of American States, predecessor to the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, recognized the contribution of the Asian diaspora to Latin America and the Caribbean as early as 1961 with the exhibition Japanese Artists of the Americas. Holding periodic art shows of Japanese Brazilian, Peruvian, Mexican, and Argentine artists as well as actively collecting them, it expanded an evolving canon of modern Latin American art. Similarly, in 1972 the exhibition Contemporary Art from the Caribbean: Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago , the AMA addressed the importance of Indian and Chinese traditions within the fusion of elements that comprise Caribbean culture and society.

  • Reinier Asmoredjo | Cultural Encounters

    Reinier Asmoredjo (Suriname, b. 1962) Reinier Asmoredjo was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, to a family of Javanese descent. He completed his studies at the Academy of Art and Culture Higher Education in Paramaribo in 1989, and in 1995 took on a teaching position at Algemene Middelbare School. In 2001, he began work as a professor at the Academy of Art and Culture. Asmoredjo’s brushstrokes, full of color and energy, share similarities with those of Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, also part of this exhibition. Asmoredjo's canvases are full circles, which variously serve as symbols of the sun, fertility, and the eternal cycle of life. Woman, as a principle of eternal energy, is a frequent theme of his work; another is the cultural richness of Suriname. As he explains: “Maroon women in traditional garb, dancing or at work, traditional elements from my own Javanese background, are particular favorites in my work.” Asmoredjo joined the Association of Visual Artists in Suriname in 1999, and the Association of Fine Art in Suriname in 2011. He has exhibited extensively in Suriname at the Readytex Art Gallery. back to collection

  • Sri Irodikromo | Cultural Encounters

    Sri Irodikromo (Netherlands, b. 1972) Sri Irodikromo is the daughter of Soeki Irodikromo, also featured in this exhibition; together they represent two generations of artists of Javanese origin. Although born in the Netherlands, Irodikromo developed her artistic career in both Suriname and the Netherlands. She is an example of the cultural richness of Suriname—a true melting pot of cultures—and its continuing connection with the Netherlands beyond its independence in 1975. Irodikromo studied at the Nola Hatterman Institute, Suriname (1989-1992), and the De Vrije Kunst Academie, Netherlands (1994-1997), and also had graphical training (1994-1998). ​ Based in Surinamese multiculturality, Irodikromo's work incorporates elements from her Javanese inheritance as well as from Amerindian and Marron cultures. She combines these elements in large-format textiles, synthesized with various materials and techniques, such as the use of wood, the legendary Javanese batik, embroidery, and painting. Irodikromo explains that she is “fascinated by how all the different cultures in Suriname coexist and impact each other. Although their origins are very different, they have formed a uniquely unified community, respectful of one another’s cultures and traditions. And they have thus, in some way or another, consciously or subconsciously, helped change and shape each other’s identity in a positive sense.” ​ Irodikromo has exhibited extensively at the Readytex Art Gallery in Paramaribo. She participated in the exhibition Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions at the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas (2011) and the Paramaribo Span project (2010). back to collection

  • Wifredo Lam | Cultural Encounters

    Wifredo Lam (Cuba, b. 1902 – Paris, d. 1982) Wifredo Lam was born in Cuba to an Afro-Cuban mother, Ana Serafina Castilla, and Yam Lam, a Cantonese immigrant employed at a sugar plantation. He was raised in the barrio chino of Sagua La Grande, in Las Villas province (today Santa Clara). Lam’s father maintained his Chinese religious beliefs, as well as other elements of Chinese culture, such as traditional calligraphy. Lam’s aunt, with whom he was very close, was a santera of the Afro-Cuban religion; nevertheless, his mother, who had Spanish as well as African roots, chose to raise him in the Roman Catholic and European cultural traditions. Lam’s artistic talents soon won him international acclaim; however, due to US restrictions on Chinese immigration, he was not able to visit New York City until 1946, even though his work had been shown there continually since the early 1940s. Having worked with cubists and surrealists while living in Spain and France during the 1920s and 1930s, Lam employed a synthesis of surrealism and cubism in his art—with major influences from Picasso, Cézanne, and Matisse—while also integrating his Afro-Cuban heritage; particularly his interest in African “primitivism” and the sculptural traditions of New Guinea. As a major Latin American artist who also played a vital role in the Parisian avant-garde, Lam has been widely studied and debated. For instance, some scholars contend that there is no formal evidence of his Chinese heritage in his work. Roberto Cobas, curator of Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, has argued that if there is a trace of Chinese culture in Lam’s oeuvre, it shows itself only in the discipline with which he devoted himself to his work on paper—drawing, etching, aquatint, lithographs—during the 1960s through the 1980s. Speaking generally, Cobas explains: “Beyond the simultaneity of his creations, whether they are close to figuration or abstraction, or the approach to his themes, new or recurrent, Lam imposes a singular plastic resource. This is due to the alignment of the elements coming from the cultures—Afro-Caribbean, European, Asiatic and the Pacific Islands.” back to collection

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