A presentation by an award-winning journalist, a festival of Asian-American films, an exhibit of Kabuki Japanese woodblock prints and a Chinese artist’s first U.S. show are among the highlights for Indiana University’s annual observance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
This year’s celebration, “Remembering the Past, Building a Future,” explores the fragile frontiers between disparate identities of Asian-Americans. Coordinated by the IU Asian Culture Center, the month will feature a series of events relating to issues facing Asian-Pacific-Americans, including lectures, roundtable discussions, films and concerts.
“We are interested in exploring, through the lens of heritage and identity, diverse experiences that show how Asian-Americans and Asian immigrants overcame obstacles and broke barriers of exclusion,” said Melanie Castillo-Cullather, director of the IU Asian Culture Center. “By looking at the past, we hope to engage everyone into a discussion about how these complex histories and cultures may have a direct or indirect impact on how we view and build our future as a community.”
Each April, IU commemorates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month a month early in order to increase student participation. It was established as a national observance in May 1978, to commemorate both the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America and the completion of the transcontinental railroad by many Chinese laborers.
Public talk by Andrew Lam
Andrew Lam, a Vietnamese-American who founded New American Media, the nation’s largest association of ethnic media, will speak at the first major public event at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at the IU School of Journalism. His lecture, “Writing in Two Hemispheres,” is free and open to the public.
Both a Rockefeller and a John S. Knight fellow, Lam was featured in the 2004 PBS documentary “My Journey Home,” which followed him back to Vietnam. Lam was born in Vietnam and came to the United States in 1975 at age 11.
A contributor to dozens of newspapers across the country, such as The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, Lam was a regular commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” His most recent book, “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres,” shines a light on the bridges and crossroads where two hemispheres meld into one worldwide “immigrant nation.”
His book “Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora” won the Pen American Beyond the Margins Award in 2006 and was short-listed for the Asian American Literature Award. His first short-story collection, “Birds of Paradise,” is due out next year, and he is working on his first novel.
Asian American Film Series at IU Cinema
The films of directors Tadashi Nakamura and Deann Borshay Liem will highlight the Asian American Film Series April 1 to 15 at IU Cinema, 1213 E. Seventh St.
Nakamura, a fourth-generation Japanese-American and a second-generation filmmaker, will be present for the screening of his documentaries, “Yellow Brotherhood,” “Pilgrimage” and “A Song for Ourselves.” The screenings will begin at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 1.
“A Song for Ourselves,” his latest film, is the final one in a trilogy on the early Asian-American movement. It has received honors at a dozen film festivals, including the Bronx Independent Film Festival, the Honolulu Film Festival and the WorldFest-Houston International Film and Video Festival. “Pilgrimage” was one of the 83 short films out of 7,500 submissions selected for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
Two films by Borshay Liem, “First Person Plural” and “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee,” will be shown beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3.
She has more than 20 years of experience working in development, production and distribution of independent documentaries. She is producer, director and writer for the Emmy Award-nominated documentary, “First Person Plural,” which was shown at Sundance in 2000, and the award-winning film “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee,” which was part of PBS’ POV series in 2010.
Borshay Liem is also the director, producer and writer of the new feature-length documentary “Geographies of Kinship — The Korean Adoption Story.”
She directed the Center for Asian American Media, where she supervised the development, distribution and broadcast of new films for public television and worked with Congress to support minority representation in public media. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a recipient of a Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship.
The last film in the series, “Today’s Special,” written by Indian-American Aasif Mandvi, will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15. The movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” also will be shown at Wright Quad’s formal lounge at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, April 12.
Legends of Kabuki: Tragic Heroes, Doomed Lovers and Stories of Revenge
The IU Art Museum Education Department and the IU Asian Culture Center will present an in-gallery program to coincide with the installation of an exhibit of Japanese woodblock prints, “Legends of Kabuki: Tragic Heroes, Doomed Lovers and Stories of Revenge.”
Lesley Ham, an IU graduate student who curated the installation, will interview IU graduate student and Japanese traditional performing artist Monica Ham. Lesley will provide the historical narrative and stories behind a selection of prints depicting highlights from famous Japanese Kabuki theatre. Monica will highlight the stories with demonstrations of Kabuki song and dance. A light reception will follow. The program will begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at the IU Art Museum, 1133 E. Seventh St.
Ink Paintings by Pu YueRu
The Asian Culture Center, 807 E. 10th St., will present a collection of ink paintings by artist Pu YueRu at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 19. Born in a small village in WuJi county in northeastern HeBei province of China, she spent 40 years farming, sewing, weaving and painting in the village. She now works in a studio in a suburb of Beijing. Her paintings nostalgically depict traditional lives in China, recalling a self-sustained, harmonious and happy paradise of human life. This will be her first solo show in the United States.
Public talk by Jae Rhim Lee
Jae Rhim Lee, an Asian-American visual artist, designer and researcher whose work proposes unorthodox relationships between the mind/body/self and the built and natural environment, will speak at the Frangipanni Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. on Saturday, April 14. His talk, exploring the themes of sustainability, transdisciplinary research-based art and death, will take place in the early afternoon at a time to be announced later.
Here’s a powerful provocation from artist Jae Rhim Lee. Can we commit our bodies to a cleaner, greener Earth, even after death? Naturally — using a special burial suit seeded with pollution-gobbling mushrooms. Yes, this just might be the strangest TEDTalk you’ll ever see!
APAHM will continue many of its annual traditions, including the annual Taste of Asia on Friday, April 6, at the IU Auditorium, 1211 E. Seventh St.; Southeast Asian Night on Saturday, April 7, at Willkie Auditorium; and AsianFest at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, April 28.
A range of other programs is also planned. More information about all 2012 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month events is available at the Asian Culture Center website.
The sponsors for 2012 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and its events include the Asian American Studies Program, the IU School of Journalism, IU Cinema, the IU Art Museum, the Asian Pacific American Faculty and Staff Council and Union Board.