Finding Identity: Heritage as Inspiration
A new exhibition, Finding Identity: Heritage as Inspiration, will open in the Massillon Museum’s Fred F. Silk Community Room Gallery with a free, public reception for the artists on Saturday, April 1, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The exhibition will continue through May 21, 2023.
The opening is concurrent with MassMu’s NEA Big Read Kickoff and the opening reception for Accessible Expressions Ohio. Both exhibitions complement the Museum’s 2023 book selection, Interior Chinatown
by Charles Yu. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Complimentary copies of the book will be offered as long as the supply lasts. Learn more at MassMu.org/BigRead.
All exhibitions may be seen during regular Museum hours—Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. The Massillon Museum is accessible and admission is free. Everyone is welcome.
In Finding Identity: Heritage as Inspiration, three Asian American artists—Aimee Lee, Chi Wong, and Jordan Wong—share artwork that shows the different ways one’s unique Asian American experience can be brought to life.
They draw inspiration from disparate sources like the bustling crowds of Chinatown, the pop culture influences of manga and video games, and the traditional craft of Korean papermaking. Their artwork illustrates that being Asian American is not a singular experience, but one that varies through heritage, personal experience, and time to define one’s unique identity.
“The term Asian American often elicits a singular image whether in popular culture or in the media landscape. The concept of “Asia” tends to find itself simplified without any distinction between the many varied cultures, languages, and people that make up the region,” says Tim Arai, guest curator. “We invite the visitor to both experience the big picture as well as take one’s time to look at the details and see the commonalities as well as the differences between the works and the cultures that inspired its creation and leave with a more nuanced idea of what it means to be Asian American in today’s society.”
About Aimee Lee
Aimee Lee is an artist who makes paper, writes, and advocates for Korean papermaking practices. Designated an Ohio Arts Council Heritage Fellow, she is a two-time Fulbright scholar to Korea, where she learned about making hanji (traditional Korean paper), its applications, and its tools. She has studied with various Korean national and provincial holders of intangible cultural heritage since 2009. She built the first hanji studio in the Americas and wrote an award-winning book, Hanji Unfurled
, the first English-language book dedicated to hanji. Her studio practice includes jiseung, joomchi, paper textile, botanical paper, book art, and natural dyeing techniques. She travels the world to teach, exhibit, and serve as a resident artist. Her practice is centered at her dedicated private hanji studio in South Euclid, Ohio, and she provides hanji resources online at aimeelee.net
About Chi Wong
Chi-Irena Wong earned her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2020 and is currently based in Cleveland, OH. She specializes in watercolor drawings and public installation. Wong’s drawings depict a fantastical world that is playful, humorous, and absurd by posing “what if?” and “why not?” questions. The goal of this artwork is to question the idea of “normalcy” and challenge the human perception of reality by presenting a world that is very absurd in our eyes but appears ordinary to the characters that exist in this fantastical world. She encourages viewers to question their own perception of reality and ask themselves, “Is the world we live in actually the absurd world?” Chi has worked with many organizations: Cuyahoga County Public Library, Art X Love: Akron On Deck, Cleveland Public Library, AsiaTown Cleveland, LJ Shanghai, Asian Services In Action (ASIA), Cleveland Metroparks, Piano Cleveland, Waterloo Arts District, Art House, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), City of Parma, Case Western Reserve University, and Baker-Nord Square. She is part of Summa Health’s private Healing Art Collection.
About Jordan Wong
As a Chinese American whose childhood was filled with anime, manga, and video games, Jordan Wong (WONGFACE) creates drawings, characters, and icons to contemplate the hero’s journey and the game theory of leveling up throughout one’s life. He has produced large-scale installations and public artwork for the city of Cleveland and has exhibited at the Akron Art Museum (2021–2022) as well as the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (2020). From 2020 to 2022 he served as the president of the Cleveland chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design. His work has been featured by Ideastream, Destination Cleveland, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Channel 3 WKYC, News 5 Cleveland, The Great Discontent (issue no. 5), Graphic Design USA (”People to Watch 2021”), Cleveland Magazine (”Most Interesting People 2021”), PressureLife, The Land, FreshWater Cleveland, and CAN Journal.
About Tim Arai
Takuya (Tim) Arai was born in Japan but moved to the US at a young age; he experienced American culture outside the home and Japanese culture inside the home. After graduating college and becoming a computer programmer, he moved to international business with a focus on Japan that included frequent travel during the last 18 years. The frequency of travel combined with losing an outlet for creativity through programming, led him to photography to fill the void. Through photography, specifically his interest in traditional film photography, he became involved with the Cleveland Print Room, initially as just a member but eventually as a board member and interim VP. Through his involvement with institutions such as the Massillon Museum and the Cleveland Print Room, he is looking forward to having a more direct impact on the local community by helping spread awareness and understanding of today’s social issues through the arts.
The Massillon Museum is grateful for operating support from the Ohio Arts Council, ArtsinStark, and the citizens of Massillon, as well as marketing support from Visit Canton. This exhibition is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots. For more information, call 330.833.4061 or visit massillonmuseum.org
Alexandra Nicholis Coon, MassMu Executive Director • 330-833-4061 x111
Margy Vogt, MassMu Public Relations Coordinator • 330-844-1525
Aimee Lee, All at Once