Skip to Main Content

Asian American Artists, Architects, and Designers

This guide focuses on organizing lists and resources on selected professional Asian American artists, architects and designers who have done impactful work.

Books on Asian-American Art

Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art

Featuring works by twenty foreign-born artists of Asian parentage who have come to the United States to live and work, Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art explores questions of bicultural identity as expressed in artworks by members of the fastest growing immigrant group in American today. The artists came from China, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. They range from recent arrivals to thirty-year residents and work in a broad range of styles and mediums, including painting, installation, photography, drawing, and sculpture. 

Asian American Art, 1850-1970

Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 is the first comprehensive study of the lives and artistic production of artists of Asian ancestry active in the United States before 1970. The publication features original essays by ten leading scholars, biographies of more than 150 artists, and over 400 reproductions of artwork, ephemera, and images of the artists. This pioneering work recovers the extraordinarily impressive artistic production of numerous Asian Americans, and offers richly informed interpretations of a long-neglected art history. 

Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970

This beautifully illustrated volume, companion book to the exhibition of the same name, presents the first comprehensive survey of work produced by artists of Asian descent in America during the first seven decades of the twentieth century. Featuring examples across many media and extending beyond ethnicity, Asian/American/Modern Art brings into focus an underrepresented and vital group within American art. Two areas of emphasis, the modernist matrix of the early twentieth century and the post-World War II period wherein artists developed new approaches, support the book's recurring themes of war and peace, urban life and community. 

Drawing New Color Lines

The global circulation of comics, manga, and other such visual mediums between North America and Asia produces transnational meanings no longer rooted in a separation between "Asian" and "American." Drawing New Color Lines explores the culture, production, and history of contemporary graphic narratives that depict Asian Americans and Asians. It examines how Japanese manga and Asian popular culture have influenced Asian American comics; how these comics and Asian American graphic narratives depict the "look" of race; and how these various representations are interpreted in nations not of their production. 

Fresh Talk, Daring Gazes

Fresh Talk/Daring Gazes chronicles the blossoming of Asian American art and anticipates the growing democratization of American art and culture. Pairing work by twenty-four contemporary Asian American visual artists with responses provocatively drawn from cultural critics, other artists, activists, and intellectuals, this book explores themes of geographical movement, the sexuality of Asian bodies, colonization, miscegenation, hybrid forms of immigrant cultures, the loss of home, war, history, and memory. 

Korean Contemporary Art

This unique survey examines the contemporary art scene in Korea, which is one of the most dynamic and least known areas of the contemporary art world. The works of today's Korean artists are rarely found between the pages of any general art book, yet they have become a major force in the global art world. Korea is rich with internationally renowned painters, photographers, and multi-media artists.

Leading the Way

Irene Poon's book pays tribute to 25 Asian American artists she has known and photographed during her own distinguished career. She has compiled a book about the pioneers she found to emulate when she began creating images of the world around her, both within and beyond her own San Francisco Chinatown. Selected art works and photographic portraits provide an insightful introduction to the Asian American artists active from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Local Invisibility, Postcolonial Feminisms: Asian American Contemporary Artists in California

This book offers gendered, postcolonial insights into the poetic and artistic work of four generations of female Asian American artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nancy Hom, Betty Kano, Flo Oy Wong, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Theresa H.K. Cha, and Hung Liu are discussed in relation to the cultural politics of their time, and their art is examined in light of the question of what it means to be an Asian American artist. Laura Fantone's exploration of this dynamic, understudied artistic community begets a sensitive and timely reflection on the state of Asian American women in the USA and in Californian cultural institutions.

One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now

Contemporary Asian American artists with a strong sense of being American and an acute critical consciousness of world matters grapple with issues of identity in a way that sets them apart from their predecessors. Whereas many Asian American artists of a previous generation directly referred to an Asian sense of self in their works, it can be argued that younger Asian American artists only sometimes make reference to it or omit it entirely. This creatively designed book focuses on recent works by seventeen Asian American artists born in the late 1960s and 1970s including Patty Chang, Kaz Oshiro, and Jean Shin to explore this pivotal generation of artists, the prevalent themes in their art, and the different ways they configure identity in their work. 


More than three decades after its first publication, Edward Said's groundbreaking critique of the West's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East has become a modern classic. In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Said traces the origins of "orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined "the orient" simply as "other than" the occident.

They Painted From Their Hearts: Pioneer Asian American Artists

Examines the work of 18 Asian Pacific American artists creating in the Pacific Northwest during the period from 1900 to 1960. Essays on art in Seattle, Asian American painters of Washington state, early Asian American photographers, and the legacy of Asian American art accompany color paintings. 

The Third Mind

The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989 illuminates the dynamic and complex impact of Asian art, literary texts and philosophical concepts on American artistic practices from the late nineteenth century through the present. Released to accompany a major survey at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Third Mind traces how the classical arts of India, China and Japan and the systems of Hindu, Taoist, Tantric Buddhist and Zen Buddhist thought that were collectively admired as the "East" were known, reconstructed and transformed by American cultural, intellectual and political forces.

Unnamable: The Ends of Asian American Art

Charting its historical conditions and the expansive contexts of its emergence, Susette Min challenges the notion of Asian American art as a site of reconciliation or as a way for marginalized artists to enter into the canon or mainstream art scene. Pressing critically on the politics of visibility and how this categorization reduces artworks by Asian American artists within narrow parameters of interpretation, Unnamable reconceives Asian American art not as a subset of objects, but as a medium that disrupts representations and embedded knowledge. By approaching Asian American art in this way, Min refigures the way we see Asian American art as an oppositional practice, less in terms of its aspirations to be seen--its greater visibility--and more in terms of how it models a different way of seeing and encountering the world. 

War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art

War Baby / Love Child examines hybrid Asian American identity through a collection of essays, artworks, and interviews at the intersection of critical mixed race studies and contemporary art. As an increasingly ethnically ambiguous Asian American generation is coming of age in an era of "optional identity," this collection brings together first-person perspectives and a wider scholarly context to shed light on changing Asian American cultures. 

Why Asia?

Why Asia?: Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art is a ground-breaking investigation into two overlapping and rapidly emerging areas in contemporary art. Extricating them from their current confusion under a generic "Asian" label, Yang reveals the specificity of each. Yang reflects on the complexities of exhibition practice, the role of identity politics in arts, the unspoken assumptions of Western critics faced with Asian art, and the difficulties faced by artists working between cultures.

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art takes Asian American differences as its point of departure, and brings together artists and scholars to challenge normative assumptions, essentialisms, and methodologies within Asian American art and visual culture. Taken together, these nine original artist interviews, cutting-edge visual artworks, and seven critical essays explore contemporary currents and experiences within Asian American art, including the multiple axes of race and identity, queer bodies and forms, kinship and affect, and digital identities and performances. Using the verb and critical lens of "queering" to capture transgressive cultural, social, and political engagement and practice, the contributors to this volume explore the connection points in Asian American experience and cultural production of surveillance states, decolonization and diaspora, transnational adoption, and transgender bodies and forms, as well as heteronormative respectability, the military, and war. The interdisciplinary and theoretically informed frameworks in the volume engage readers to understand global and historical processes through contemporary Asian American artistic production.

Unsettled Visions

In Unsettled Visions, the activist, curator, and scholar Margo Machida presents a pioneering, in-depth exploration of contemporary Asian American visual art. Machida focuses on works produced during the watershed 1990s, when surging Asian immigration had significantly altered the demographic, cultural, and political contours of Asian America, and a renaissance in Asian American art and visual culture was well underway. Machida conducted extensive interviews with ten artists working during this transformative period: women and men of Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese descent, most of whom migrated to the United States. In dialogue with the artists, Machida illuminates and contextualizes the origins of and intent behind bodies of their work. Unsettled Visions is an engrossing look at a vital art scene and a subtle account of the multiple, shifting meanings of "Asianness" in Asian American art. Analyses of the work of individual artists are grouped around three major themes that Asian American artists engaged with during the 1990s: representations of the Other; social memory and trauma; and migration, diaspora, and sense of place.

Asia as Method

Centering his analysis in the dynamic forces of modern East Asian history, Kuan-Hsing Chen recasts cultural studies as a politically urgent global endeavor. He argues that the intellectual and subjective work of decolonization begun across East Asia after the Second World War was stalled by the cold war. At the same time, the work of deimperialization became impossible to imagine in imperial centers such as Japan and the United States. Chen contends that it is now necessary to resume those tasks, and that decolonization, deimperialization, and an intellectual undoing of the cold war must proceed simultaneously. Combining postcolonial studies, globalization studies, and the emerging field of "Asian studies in Asia," he insists that those on both sides of the imperial divide must assess the conduct, motives, and consequences of imperial histories.

Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women

Cheers To Muses is an anthology featuring visual art, fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction by Asian American women, who challenge contemporary and historical assumptions about what it means to create Asian American art. Cheers to Muses consists of 128 pages richly illustrated with 46 color plates.

Troubling Borders

Juxtaposing short stories, poetry, painting, and photographs, Troubling Borders showcases the creative work of women of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Filipino ancestry. This thematically arranged collection interrupts borders of categorization and gender, in what preface author Shirley Geok-Lin Lim describes as a "leap over the barbed fences that have kept these women apart in these, our United States of America." The sixty-two contributors have been shaped by colonization, wars, globalization, and militarization. Their provocative and accessible creations tell unique stories, provide sharp contrasts to familiar stereotypes--Southeast Asian women as exotic sex symbols, dragon ladies, prostitutes, or "bar girls"--and serve as entry points for broader discussions about questions of history, memory, and identity.