Huntington U: Asian America in the Galleries, Archives, and Gardens

Explore Asian American history, art, and experience through The Huntington’s collections in this six-seminar series led by Huntington curators.

Attendees will spend time on-site learning directly from key archival sources, artworks in the galleries, and our grounds and gardens. The course is co-taught by Li Wei Yang, The Huntington’s curator of Pacific Rim collections; Yinshi Lerman-Tan, the associate curator of American art; and Phillip Bloom, the curator of the Chinese Garden.

In what ways does The Huntington hold and preserve Asian American history and speak to Asian diasporic experiences in the past and today? Classes will feature close-looking at and discussion of library holdings (including manuscripts, rare books, photographs, maps, and ephemera), artworks (including decorative arts, works on paper, photography, painting, and modern and contemporary art by Asian American artists), and both the Chinese and Japanese gardens, along with weekly readings.

Topics include:

  • the journey of 19th- and early 20th-century Chinese and Japanese American immigrants and their struggle for equal rights in the American West;
  • Asian American artists’ major contributions across media from the 19th century to the present;
  • Asian American labor and the history of The Huntington;
  • how the United States’ Chinese Exclusion Act and restrictive immigration controls impacted artists of Asian descent;
  • Orientalism and American decorative arts; American foreign policy and expatriates in Japan and China;
  • the formation, displacement, and rebirth of Los Angeles’ Chinatowns;
  • world’s fairs and the American reception of Japanese aesthetics;
  • the demographic shifts in the San Gabriel Valley and the creation of The Huntington’s Chinese Garden;
  • and developments in contemporary Asian American art.