This fall, the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State opens its doors Global Asians: Contemporary Asian and American Art of Asian Origin from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation. This major exhibition showcases the cosmopolitan, exuberant and subtly subversive work of 15 artists of Asian descent who are adept at crossing boundaries – not only physical but also those of media, styles, genres and materials. Global Asia is the first large-scale exhibition to showcase the impressive breadth and diversity of the Jordan Schnitzer Foundation’s collection of contemporary Asian and Asian art. The exhibition will premiere at the Palmer from August 28 to December 12, 2021, before embarking on a nationwide tour.
“The artists included in this exhibition open our eyes to what it’s like to cross both real and cultural borders,” said Jordan Schnitzer, whose family has a long history of advocating for art and Asian culture. “I hope that each spectator is as moved as I am by this exhibition and that he is challenged and inspired by art. The power of this exhibition will influence us all for years to come. “
Global Asia invites viewers to think of Asia not in the singular but in the plural – encouraging audiences to understand Asia as a site of meaning across the world. The artists in Global Asia were born in Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Argentina and the United States. Curated by Dr. Chang Tan, Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian Studies at Penn State, the exhibit provides an opportunity to move away from considering Asia as a geographic location and us rather invites us to think broadly about how “Asia” has long served as an imaginative construct.
“As the centerpiece of a world-class, globally-oriented research university, we are committed to curating and presenting projects that rewrite outdated stories, reconsider cultural assumptions and embrace inclusiveness,” said Erin M. Coe, Director of the Palmer Museum. “This powerful exhibit, designed in late 2018, invites us to consider our common humanity, especially in the aftermath of the global pandemic.”
“On behalf of the Palmer Museum of Art and Penn State, I express my gratitude to Jordan Schnitzer for recognizing the transformative power of Asian and Asian American art, and I thank the artists who inspired the exhibition,” said Coe continued. “We stand with them and with all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in condemning recent acts of appalling discrimination and violence against these communities.”
The artists represented in the exhibition are Kwang Young Chun, Jacob Hashimoto, Manabu Ikeda, Jun Kaneko, Dinh Q. Lê, Hung Liu, Mariko Mori, Hiroki Morinoue, Takashi Murakami, Roger Shimomura, Do Ho Suh, Akio Takamori, Barbara Takenaga , Rirkrit Tiravanija and Patti Warashina. All draw on a rich array of motifs, media, genres, techniques and cultural motivations to reflect and embody diverse “Asians” in a modern global context.
“Globalization, with all its sights and dangers, continues to shape our daily existence,” said guest curator Chang Tan. “The Asian and Asian American artists featured in this exhibition allow us to see that the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is often misplaced and illusory. We are together on this beautiful and fragile planet. Art lays bare our common passions and fears, and therefore helps us map our entangled destinies to come. “
The 45 works in Global Asia are divided into three thematic sections:
Exuberant Forms presents works that reshape and challenge conventional views of abstract art by exploring new materials, techniques and metaphors. Kwang Young Chun (b.1944) exploits the texture of handmade papers in his dark monochromes accretive, while Jacob Hashimoto (b.1973) mimics the effect of collage in his tour de force prints. Jun Kaneko (born 1942) “flattens” the raku into explosive two-dimensionality. Hiroki Morinoue (born 1947) and Barbara Takenaga (born 1949) create complex geometric patterns to evoke natural formations.
Moving Stories brings together powerful works that reflect experiences of migration, both in Asia and beyond. Dinh Q. Lê (born in 1968) appropriates and masks emblematic images of the Vietnam War. Hung Liu (1948-2021) also draws his inspiration from historical photographs, reinterpreting the genre of portraiture through the lens of displaced immigrants and volunteers. Roger Shimomura (b.1939) borrows the visual language of Japanese prints and Pop art to portray the lives of Japanese Americans incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. Do Ho Suh (born 1962) and Rirkrit Tiravanjia (born 1961) map their own diasporic trajectories, literally and metaphorically.
Asias Reinvented highlights two- and three-dimensional works that transform styles and motifs of traditional Asian art to engage, probe and critique contemporary popular culture and politics. The pop and manga fantasies of Takashi Murakami (b.1962) and Mariko Mori (b.1967) are rooted in both artisanal legacies and consumerist trends in Japan. Akio Takamori (1950-2017) and Patti Warashina (born 1940) transform seemingly innocent motifs into eerie representations of life, love and death. Manabu Ikeda (born 1973) evokes the famous waves of Hokusai to create a surreal scene of planetary apocalypse.
The exhibition marks the first time in its 50-year history that the Palmer Museum has partnered with Jordan Schnitzer and his foundation.
After its debut at the Palmer Museum of Art, the exhibition travels to the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, Tennessee, from January 28 to April 24, 2022; The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York, June 4 to September 18, 2022; Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana, October 13, 2022 to January 15, 2023; and USC Pacific Asia Art Museum, Pasadena, California, March 10 to June 25, 2023.
A catalog accompanies the exhibition and includes 73 color images, an essay by guest curator Chang Tan, a preface by museum director Erin Coe, and a collector’s statement by Jordan D. Schnitzer. Published by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the volume is distributed by DAP (Distributed Art Publishers). The book will be available for sale in the museum shop and will also be available through DAP