In preparation for the opening of Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986, Collections staff received 38 special collections comic books from the Fales Library at NYU. The comics have arrived!
Comics featured include a Green Hornet from 1944, Yellow Claw from 1956, Wonder Woman from 1956, Justice League of America from 1967, Iron Man from 1969, Captain America from 1970, Batman from 1972, and many, many more!
Don’t miss out on the exhibition opening on Thursday, October 10th at 6 p.m. or the FREE fun-filled Target FREE Family Saturdays event on Saturday, October 12th from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Nisei soldiers who fought in World War II embodied a particular set of values, passed down from generation to generation. Giri—sense of duty. Gambare—perseverance. And of course, go for broke—give it your all.
Go For Broke chronicles the resilience and bravery of these young men both on and off the battlefield. Japanese American soldiers fought in eight brutal campaigns across Europe, receiving thousands of medals for heroism even while suffering an astronomical casualty rate. Thousands more joined the Military Intelligence Service and operated throughout the Pacific Theater as language and intelligence specialists. Yet their battles were not finished when the war ended. The Nisei veterans returned to fight pervasive racism back home—and proved just as successful in this arena. With their help, hundreds of anti-Asian laws were struck down.
First displayed at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York, Go For Broke shows how instrumental these soldiers were in the Japanese American fight for justice both overseas and at home. The photographs in this exhibition are supplemented by a special Guide by Cell audio tour, with narration by curator Eric Saul and Nisei veterans.
To celebrate the opening of this exhibition, we invite all JANM Members for a special preview of the exhibition before it opens to the public.
Member Preview Sunday, November 10th • 2-4PM
Members are invited to join us for an exclusive preview of Go For Broke with curator Eric Saul. To RSVP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.625-0414 ext. 2222 by Wednesday, November 6.
Join us also for this special public program on December 7th presented in partnership with the Go For Broke National Educational Center:
The Military Intelligence Service (M.I.S.) in Occupied Japan Saturday, December 7th • 2PM
M.I.S. veterans, Edwin Nakasone, Bruce Kaji, and Hitoshi Sameshima, will discuss their roles in the rebuilding of Japan after the end of World War II. The MIS was a US military unit mostly comprised of Japanese American Nisei who provided translation, interpretation, and interrogation services during World War II. Presented as part of the Tateuchi Public Program Series.
As the incoming Collections Manager at the Japanese American National Museum, I am amazed by the sheer depth of artifacts and artworks that comprise the Japanese American experience. Having admired the institution’s mission and values from an outside perspective, I am happy to become part of the thriving community that is “behind the house” in the collections at JANM.
It is the goal of the Collections Management and Access Unit (CMA) to preserve the collections for future generations and to utilize them to their fullest potential as ambassadors and storytellers for the Museum—for the collections are the cornerstone of the Museum. One wonderful way to achieve this potential is to use our temporary exhibitions as an entryway into exploring our own collections.
We are excited to have the opportunity to share some of JANM’s collection alongside the traveling exhibition, Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986, which comes to us from the NYU Fales Library & Special Collections. CMA and Education Staff realized the potential of pairing our collection of historical artifacts to enhance the exhibition in an unexpected way.
It is interesting to contemplate the idea that artist Chris Ishii never imagined Li’l Neebo sharing gallery space with Wonder Woman! A Miss Breed letter and Mine Okubo drawing in conversation with each other about the shared theme of comic books… who would’ve guessed?
Marvels & Monsters illustrates Asians and Asian Americans through racial and cultural archetypes and when paired with first person Japanese American narratives of concentration camp life told through comics, a differing perspective is shared. Through the cartoons of artist Chris Ishii’s Li’l Neebo and George Akimoto’s Lil Dan’l, artwork by Mine Okubo, and letters from young inmates to librarian Clara Breed, Museum visitors will glimpse how comics were used to express emotion and to retain a sense of normalcy in a less than ideal situation. These images, juxtaposed with the stereotypical Asian themes in U.S. comics, provide a place for reflection on the impact and power of storytelling through comics and the way in which this popular medium has shaped perceptions of history.
It is through collaborations such as these that the importance of the collections at JANM, through the stories and first person experiences of the Issei and Nisei generation, are linked to contemporary society.
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Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 will be on display at the Japanese American National Museum from October 12, 2013 – February 9, 2014. For more information about the exhibition and related public programs, visit: janm.org/marvels-monsters
Margaret Zachow Wetherbee is the new Collections Manager at the Japanese American National Museum.
On Friday, September 13, the Japanese American National Museum threw an opening party to welcome our newest exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story. Created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, I Want the Wide American Earth explores the rich, and deep-rooted history of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.
This event was open to the public and attracted hundreds of visitors, including locals, and travelers from different states. Free food from Aloha Cafe and drinks from Ito-en and the Mighty Boba Truck were served throughout the reception, while exciting performances filled the evening.
From previews of Our American Voice in the exhibition gallery presented in partnership with East West Players, to powerful numbers by YouTube stars, DANakaDAN + Crew Love, to the comical performances of The Fung Brothers, it was an evening of enlightenment, reflection, and entertainment.
The evening began by celebrating the opening of an exhibition, but it soon became a night to celebrate the history, accomplishments, and the exciting future of Asian Pacific Americans.
Check out these pictures from the opening party! (Click on the photos to see them larger)
Photos by: Tsuneo Takasugi, Richard Watanabe, and Richard Murakami.
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If you haven’t seen I Want the Wide American Earth yet, stop by the museum to view the exhibition before it closes on October 27th. If you didn’t get a chance to watch Our American Voice, East West Players will be performing every Saturday at 1:00PM throughout the run of the exhibition. For more information on the exhibition: janm.org/wide-american-earth
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Marvels & Monsters opening next week!
Don’t miss our next exhibition opening event! Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 will be at JANM from October 12, 2013 – February 9, 2014, but we’ll be celebrating early on Thursday, October 10 from 6PM – 9:30PM.
Traveling to JANM from the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Marvels & Monsters will illustrate how evolving racial and cultural archetypes defined America’s perceptions of Asians through a selection of images from comic books representing four turbulent decades.
This preview reception will be hosted by the JANM Young Professionals Network and is free and open to the public! Get a sneak peek at the exhibition and check out readings of the winning short scenes from the “Marvels & Monsters: Unbound” Showcase!
Jeff Yang, well known for his “Tao Jones” column in the Wall Street Journal, is the former “Asian Pop” columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and publisher of A. Magazine. He began reading and collecting comics at the age of eight, and hasn’t allowed distractions like adulthood, marriage, and fatherhood to deter him since. He’s even made comics a part of his professional life with the seminal graphic novel collection Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology and its follow-up Secret Identities: Volume 2 Shattered.
Join us for this unforgettable Members Gallery Talk.
Members Gallery Talk
Thursday, October 10th • 5:30 PM JANM Members Only
Intimate gallery tour with curator Jeff Yang.
Thursday, October 10th • 6PM – 9:30PM FREE & open to the public!
Join us for a special preview of Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942 – 1986. Hosted by the JANM Young Professionals Network.
If you’re not a current JANM member, join/renew now! In addition to special opportunities like this, members also receive free admission and discounts at our award-winning Museum Store and on workshops and tours. Your support enables us to continue to present exhibitions, public programs, educational workshops and tours, and much more!
Write an original monologue or short performance piece for a chance to be included in JANM’s October 10 “MARVELS & MONSTERS” SHOWCASE!
Throughout our nation’s history, Asians have been depicted as a set of distorted archetypes—the eternal foreigner, the sexless nerd, the brutal thug, the mystical wise man, the suicidal fanatic, the perpetual victim, the exotic seductress, and the conniving mastermind.
Now we’re looking for you to help shatter those images—with short original works of your own.
To commemorate the Japanese American National Museum’s West Coast premiere of MARVELS & MONSTERS: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986, we’re looking for you to submit monologues or short performance works that rethink, subvert, deconstruct, or satirize the eight Asian pop-culture archetypes depicted in this exhibition, which draws from science fiction author William F. Wu’s extensive collection of comic books featuring Asian and Asian American characters—widely considered to be the largest in the world.
The archetypes are:
THE ALIEN: The perpetual foreigner; the enigmatic, inscrutable, unassimilable outsider in our midst. His customs are peculiar, his beliefs heathen, his agenda secret; never fully understood, and so never fully trusted, he is best regarded from a distance with a mix of curiosity, revulsion and fear.
THE BRAIN: The hyperintelligent mind without a body; sexless, heartless, friendless, a self-hating prodigy more comfortable interacting with machines than people. The math nerd and mad scientist, the otaku and outcast: He may rule the world, but will he ever get the girl?
THE BRUTE: The gangster, the thug, the minion, the martial arts master—the Brute may be a staggering physical specimen, but he is a nameless and voiceless one; his is not to wonder why—his is merely to do, and more often than not, die, without complaint or commemoration. Stoic in his suffering, silent in his rage, he is infinitely interchangeable, eternally anonymous, limited in language to gestures of deference and the vocabulary of violence.
THE GURU: The mystical wise one, whose inscrutable ways disguise the ancient, awesome truths he holds within his soul. Aged and wizened, he speaks in vague riddles and impenetrable allegories, appearing at first glance to be mad, senescent, or both. Yet to the right individual, the apprentice who is destined to inherit the Guru’s secrets, he is a gatekeeper to limitless power.
THE KAMIKAZE: Human missiles screaming a lingering cry of “Banzai!!!!” as they plummet toward enemy forces; insurgents wired with explosives, eager to martyr themselves to earn vengeance and a reward in Heaven; nameless soldiers scrambling over the corpses of their fellows only to be mowed down in turn. The Kamikaze has many faces, but all are mindlessly self-sacrificing, zealously loyal, feverishly patriotic, and utterly dismissive of the value of human life.
THE LOTUS BLOSSOM: The long-suffering wife, the left-behind lover; the hostage, the victim, the betrayed and forgotten. The Lotus Blossom is patient in her doomed love and passive to her predestined fate—which is to be abused, abased, exploited, and ultimately destroyed by or sacrificed for the man she loves and serves.
THE TEMPTRESS: The exotic seductress, who uses her feminine wiles and sexual prowess to enthrall and ultimately, betray—lush of body, false of heart, her mocking laughter and the sharp rake of her clawed fingers may well be the last thing you’ll ever experience.
THE MANIPULATOR: The evil controller, the shadowy mastermind, the megalomaniacal puppeteer seeking conquest through nefarious intrigue; brilliant, yes, but twisted by an insatiable lust for wealth, power, and control—hoping, perhaps, that world domination might fill the dark and hollow void of his soul.
Eight winning pieces will be selected by a jury that includes exhibition curator Jeff Yang; winning authors will receive widespread public acclaim and admiration, a $100 honorarium, and the opportunity to present their pieces as staged readings at JANM’s “Marvels & Monsters: Unbound” Short Works Showcase on October 10, 2013.
Unleash your creative potential. Submit your entries today!
Entries must be emailed to email@example.com as file attachments (.DOC, .TXT, or .RTF filetypes accepted; email above if alternate filetype is preferred). You will receive an emailed confirmation of your submission.
1. Entries must be received by no later than 5PM PT on September 15, 2013 to be considered. Winners will be notified by 5PM PT on September 18.
2. The competition is open to all individuals, amateur or professional.
3. Entries should be no more than five minutes long in total.
4. All types and genres of work that can be performed live are eligible, including musical and solo performance pieces. Any instruments, props, or media utilized in a presentation must be provided by and are the sole responsibility of the submitter.
5. Works will be judged on their originality and quality, as well as their complementarity with other selected works and their relevance to the ideas and images depicted in the exhibition.
6. Winning submitters will be responsible for casting, staging, and directing their own presentations. JANM will provide space for one dress rehearsal before the showcase.
7. Authors retain all rights to their submissions. However, by submitting, authors agree to present their work at JANM on October 10, and to allow presentations to be taped for possible inclusion in the Marvels & Monsters exhibition and in documentary and video materials related to the exhibition.
With Comic-Con long over and summer superhero movie season coming to an end, are you looking for another pop culture fix? If so, search no more—Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 opens October 12, 2013 at JANM!
Through a selection of images from comic books representing four turbulent decades, Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 assembles a team of xenophobic archetypes to illustrate the roots of Asian misrepresentation in pop culture. Curated by Jeff Yang, Marvels & Monsters places these genre-spanning archetypes—the Guru, the Brain, the Temptress, the Manipulator, the Alien, the Kamikaze, the Brute, and the Lotus Blossom—into a historical framework and then follows up with a discourse between current Asian American creators.
View the most striking examples of these archetypes alongside contemporary Asian American graphic novels and interactive installations through February 9, 2014. This exhibition is a collaboration between the A/P/A Institute at NYU and the NYU Fales Library & Special Collections.
Don’t miss out on two FREE events to mark the opening of Marvels & Monsters!
Thursday, October 10th • 6PM – 9:30PM FREE & open to the public!
Join us for a special preview of Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics with curator Jeff Yang. Hosted by the JANM Young Professionals Network.
Target FREE Family Saturdays: Zap! Pow! Bam!
Saturday, October 12th • 11AM – 4PM Free all day!
Celebrate the opening of Marvels & Monsters at our comics-themed Target Day. Check janm.org/target for the schedule.
A Conversation with Lela Lee
Saturday, October 19th • 2PM
Lela Lee, author and artist of the comic book series Angry Little Girls will discuss her comics and their impact on Asian Americans and beyond. There will be an exclusive, members-only Meet & Greet with Lela at 1PM—stay tuned for details!
To put a personal touch from JANM on the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, we chose to complement the banners with some items from the Museum’s extensive collections. Since we have over 60,000 unique artifacts, documents, and photos in our permanent collection, it was a tough choice!
As a summer intern, I was given the (amazing!) opportunity to select these artifacts. There were several qualifiers—the artifacts would have to be both relevant to its banner’s content and interesting, whether visually or content-wise. My first step was to read through the exhibition text to get a better sense of the exhibition as a whole, then to list them out along with a brief summary and relevant information (keywords, dates, people, etc.—anything that might help narrow down artifacts). I sent the document to our Collections Associate, who searched the collections database and returned a pretty extensive list of potential artifacts. From there, it was a matter of selecting one or two for each banner and then pulling them to take a look. We also collaborated with the Riverside Metropolitan Museum to loan a few items from their historic Chinatown collections.
I don’t want to give away too much (you’ll have to come to the show to see all of the artifacts), but you’ll be able to see a really striking article written in the 1940s by the chairman of the California Joint Immigration Committee. The article, after being submitted to a national magazine, was passed around by the Japanese American Citizens League’s Equality Committee as a reminder of the challenges faced.
What I find interesting about the article is the blatantly offensive language—featuring lines such as “Because of their unassimilability and the impossibility of competing with them due to their low standards of living, Japanese immigrants have never really been welcome in the United States.” Of course I was previously aware of such anti-Japanese sentiment (how could I not, after touring Common Ground: The Heart of Community), but seeing it literally spelled out for me made an abstract concept truly hit home.
See this artifact and more in I Want the Wide American Earth from September 14 ‐ October 27, 2013! Check the exhibition page for more details.
Opening Party Friday, September 13
Whether you rep the 626, can’t get enough of boba, or just really love Asian Pacific American history, come out to the opening party for I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story!
The opening party will have loads of great entertainment and treats. YouTube comedy and music stars The Fung Brothers and DANakaDAN will be performing live, along with music from DJ Tony. We will also be debuting a new two-person show, Our American Voice. The show, presented in partnership with East West Players, explores diverse stories of Asian Pacific Americans. And if you get peckish between performances, head on over to the Mighty Boba Truck for a delicious drink!
Through a Smithsonian traveling display of 30 banners of poignant text, photographs, and art, I Want the Wide American Earth takes a sweeping look at how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of our nation’s history.
Thanks to the Smithsonian and exhibition sponsor W.K. Kellogg Foundation; public programs sponsors: MetLife Foundation, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County Arts Commission; and media sponsors: Angry Asian Man, KSCI-TV LA-18, and The Rafu Shimpo.
Wondering about the meaning behind the scrolls of hair in Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter? Interested in learning more about art?
Chinese-born artist Hong Zhang will be leading a gallery talk about her work in Portraiture Now at 1pm on Sunday, July 28. Her soft, yet subtly detailed charcoal works represent themes such as familial bonds and life’s twists and turns.
Zhang received her BFA in Chinese painting from the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1994, before coming to America in 1996. She has an MFA from the University of California, Davis, and now resides in Lawrence, Kansas.
Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter displays the diversity of contemporary Asian American identity through the groundbreaking work of seven visual artists—CYJO, Zhang Chun Hong, Hye Yeon Nam, Shizu Saldamando, Roger Shimomura, Satomi Shirai, and Tam Tran. The exhibition will close September 22, 2013.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear an acclaimed artist discuss her work! The talk is free with Museum admission.