Tomie Arai
1998-1999 A/P/A Studies Institute Artist-in-Residence

T o m i e     A r a i

The A/P/A Studies Institute is delighted to have Tomie Arai as our first artist-in-residence. She is on of the premiere American activists merging from the political ferment of the 1960s.

Arai's philosophy and work engages the past to help illuminate the present. She has played a critical role in documenting and reclaiming a variety of people's unheralded histories while at the same moment brings the viewer in dialogue with contemporary social struggles. Besides pursuing her own personal artistic expression, she has collaborated in all parts of the United States and beyond. For her, the process of working collaboratively, as an act bringing people together to share a creative vision, has been a fundamental facet of making meaningful art which speaks directly to people's everyday lives.

Arai's art demonstrates the power of one person's potential in effecting community-building. Her elegant, evocative, and ever-challenging work along with her generosity of spirit has influenced generations of activists and helped her to foster the explosion of Asian American artistic work we now witness in New York City today.

Over the course of the spring semester at NYU, Ms. Arai will be installing the first show of our gallery, participating in our courses and curriculum development, and organizing public programs.

John Kuo Wei Tchen
Director & Historian


About the artist...

Tomie Arai, community artist and activist, was born in New York City where it has defined her work for the past 30 years. The grand-daughter of Japanese farmers who settled in this country in the early 1900's, Ms. Arai approaches the immigrant experience and issues of cultural identity in her work. She is especially interested in exploring the relationship of art to history and the role that memory plays in retelling a collective past. Through the use of autobiography, family stories and photographs, historical material and oral histories, Ms. Arai creates works on paper which help her to establish a personal sense of place and community.

Ms. Arai has painted murals with community groups on the Lower East Side, taught art to children and helped create a mural to memorialize the African Burial Ground; was commissioned to design a poster for Women of Hope: African Americans Who Made a Difference; and received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to install 6 silkscreened banners in Chinatown.

Ms. Arai has had solo shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Stamford, CT and the Alternative Museum, among others, and was part of The Decade Show, a collaborative exhibition curated by the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, The New Mu-seum of Contemporary Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem. Her work appeared in SlTEseeing: Travel and Tourism in Contemporary Art, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown at Federal Plaza and in Committed to Print: An Exhibition of Recent American Print Art with Social and Political Themes, at the Museum of Modern Art.

Ms. Arai's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Library of Congress, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, and others. She has received numerous awards and grants and was recently chosen as one of ten women artists, nationwide, to receive an Anonymous Was a Woman Award.

Ms. Arai is married to Legan Wong, has two children and recently became a grandmother.