August 26, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Across the United States and certainly within Oregon, Asian Americans have historically been subjected to xenophobia and discrimination. Government policies and court decisions have in some cases even added to the bias and bigotry aimed at this group. Many Asian Americans say they have lived with a sense of cultural erasure. Currently, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans are on the rise.
To draw attention to these issues, The Immigrant Story, in collaboration with eminent Portland photographer Jim Lommasson and conceptual artist Roberta Wong, is presenting a powerful new exhibition, “I Am An American: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging.” The presentation includes photographs, posters, and installation art, all designed to focus on the experiences of Asian Americans.
The exhibition’s title, “I Am An American,” intentionally brings attention to the 80 years since Japanese Americans were targeted by the government during World War II. The slogan became a rallying cry for all Asian Americans, who even today are still trying to combat xenophobia, hateful rhetoric and the resulting violence.
The exhibition displays large portraits of six Asian American women along with Jim Lommasson’s selection of objects with their accompanying narratives. One piece on exhibit, Roberta Wong’s “All-American,” uses a severed queue, a braid of hair traditionally worn by men in imperial China, to depict the abrupt and painful experience of Chinese Americans as they left their home culture behind.
Also on display are three commissioned posters designed by Savannah Quarum from an original artwork by Marin Jurgens.
The display focuses on different facets of Asian American experiences from the endurance of many layers of adversity, to the strength revealed by a person who has decided precisely who to become.
I Am An American: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging will run from August 26, through January 8, 2023 at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave. Portland, OR 97205. Please check schedule and covid requirements here.
I Am An American: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging was made possible by a generous contribution by Anne Naito-Campbell. Additional funding was provided by a grant from Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation and Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH’s grant program.