Ken Chu

Ken Chu is an installation artist, and has exhibited internationally in community-based arts organizations, alternative art spaces, and major art institutions. His work has been included in the Tong Zhi/Comrades: Out in Asia America, Brenda and Other Stories: HIV, AIDS, and You, 42nd Street Art Project, Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art, The Decade Show, Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s, and Cultural Currents. Ken Chu coordinated Dismantling Invisibility: Asian & Pacific Islander Artists Respond to the AIDS Crisis, and Public Mirror: Artists Against Racial Prejudice. He was a panelist on Out in the 90's: Contemporary Perspectives on Gay & Lesbian Art, the first forum on gay and lesbian issues in the arts sponsored by The Whitney Museum of American Art. He co-founded Godzilla: Asian American Art Network (1990-2001), a group of New York-based Asian and Pacific Islander visual artists and arts professionals who established a forum that fosters information exchange, chumutual support, documentation, and networking through regular meetings, a newsletter, and exhibitions. In 1996, Ken worked as the arts program assistant at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. He is currently the program director for visual arts and emerging fields at Creative Capital Foundation.

Selected Objects

     Calligraphy by Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637)
Painting by a follower of Tawaraya Sotatsu
Poem Scroll with Selections from the Anthology of Chinese and Japanese Poems for Recitation (Wakan Roei Shu)

Edo period, dated to 1626
Handscroll; ink and gold on silk
12 5/8 x 206 1/2 in. (32.1 x 524.5 cm); 1979.214

1639 Japanese enforces policy of isolation from all Europeans, except a token Dutch trading post
1920s Fortune cookies invented in the U.S.
1953 Dale Joe (1924-2001), San Bernadino-born Chinese-American abstract expressionist artist receives a John Hay Whitney Fellowship, and in 1956, a Fulbright Fellowship. In 1960, he is included in Young America at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Dale is survived by his partner of 50 years, Jack Champlin. Colleagues and associates include:
Miné Okubo Robinson Jeffers
Allan Kaprow Jack Tworkov
Wolf Kahn Brice and Helen Marden
Robert DeNiro, Sr. Andy Warhol
Leon Golub Bernice Bing
1969 Asian American Study is inaugurated at San Francisco State University and University of California, Berkeley
1982 Maya Lin (1959- ), Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Jenni Holzer (1950- ), Truism displays on the Spectacolor Board in Times Square
1989-91 Brice Marden (1938- ), Cold Mountain Painting

  Civil Official
North China
Tang period, 8th century
Earthenware with multicolored lead glazes and traces of pigment (sancai ware)
H. 40 3/4 in. (103.5 cm); 1979.114

776 BC First Olympic Games in Greece
652 Koran written
1271-1295 Marco Polo (1254-1324) travels from Venice, Italy, through India, China, Burma, and Persia to the court of Kublai Khan.
1938 Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), Taliesin West, Phoenix, AZ, is dotted with glazed Chinese earthenware
1948 Sammy Lee (1920- ) is awarded the high-diving gold medal in the Olympic Games, four years later he wins again. He later coaches Samoan-American Greg Louganis (1960- )
1949 People's Republic of China is founded under Mao Tse-tung (1883-1976)
1955 Cold War (1955-1989) among Soviet Union, China, and US
1961 Win Ng (1936-1991) is one of the first generation of artists to use the ceramic medium in a non-utilitarian context. His bold geometric sculptures bring the medium into the American abstract expressionist school.
Mattel introduces Ken doll
1999 Anne Chu (1959- ), House with Bamboo Tree and Court Lady


Attributed to Kano Ryokei (died 1645)
Pheasants Under Cherry and Willow Trees and Irises and Mist

Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Nishihonganji
Edo period, first half 17th century
Pair of six-panel folding screens, Ink and color on gold leaf on paper
Each 63 x 143 1/4 in. (160.0 x 363.9 cm); 1979.217.1-2

1853 Commodore Mathew Perry forces Japan to open for trade with the West
1876 A typical Japanese home is built for Japan for the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia
Claude Monet (1840-1920), La Japonaise
1876-77 James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Harmony In Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room
1885 Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado opens in London
1925 Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), wins one of the newly established Guggenheim Fellowships. He is detained in an internment camp for seven months after a voluntary visit. Colleagues and associates include:
Rockefeller Center Martha Graham
George Balanchine Igor Stravinsky
William Butler Yeats Ezra Pound
Alfred Stieglitz Peggy Guggenheim
1942 Executive Order 9066 clears the way for the mass evacuation from the West Coast and internment of all people of Japanese descent
1976 Executive Order 9066 is rescinded
1997 Takashi Murakami (1962- ), The Kings Sect of Two Dimension

  Tohusai Sharaku (active 1794-1795)
Nakamura Konozo as the Boatman Kanagawaya No Gon and Nakajima Wadaemon as "Dried Codfish" Chozaemon

Edo period, 1794-1795
Woodblock print; ink, color and mica on paper
14 1/4 in. x 10 in. (37.5 x 25.4 cm); 1979.220

1869 Transcontinental railroad is completed
1889 Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), Wheat Field and Cypress Trees
1920 Philippinos and Mexicans begin to replace the Japanese and Koreans as farmworkers
1930s Walker Evans (1903-75), Farm Security Administration photographer
1946 Miné Okubo (1912-2001) Citizen 13660
1954 American civil-rights movement begins: US Supreme Court outlaws racial segregation in public schools
1965 Time magazine uses the term "Asian American"
US enters Vietnam War
Civil Rights Acts passes
National Foundation on Arts and Humanities Act brings into existence the National Endowments on the Arts and the National Endowments on the Humanities
1992 Barry McGee (1966- ), graffitti artist creates a mural at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
1996 Chris Doyle (1959- ), Commutable
Mariko Mori (1967- ), Birth of a Star

  The compiled text is an interpetive timeline that frames the impact of commerce and federal legislations on arts and culture.

Cultural Timeline

1500 B.C. Silk production develops in China
600 Chinese invents woodblock printing
1877 Utagawa Kuniaki II, Illustration of the Silk-reeling Machine at the Japan National Industrial Exposition
1890s Art Nouveau
1891 Mary Cassatt (1845-1926), The Bath
1892 Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1998), Salome
1897 Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
1901-3 Emil Orlik, lithography, Germany
1904 Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly opens in Paris
1905 Pilkington's Tilled Pottery Co., Ltd., UK
1905-6 Henri Matisse (1869-1954), The Joy of Life
1906 Ruskin Pottery, Birmingham, UK
1915 Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), Imperial Hotel
1916 Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922), The Derelict (The Lost Boat)
The American Arts and Crafts
Greene and Greene
1933 Superman debuts in Detective Comics
Graphics novel artists:
William M. Gaines Harvey Krutzman
Joe Sacco Art Spiegelman
Lynd Ward  
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Down the River (The Young Fisherman)
1938 Chinese-Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982) arrives in Paris with a letter of introduction to Pablo Picasso (1881-1973); Picasso finds in Lam’s work the affirmation to Picasso’s similar stage of primitivism. In 1940 Lam flees Paris, leaving his canvases with Picasso. The Picasso estate still refuses to release the canvases
1941 Ray (1916-1988) & Charles Eames (1907-1978) establishes the Eames Office
1943 Henry Sugimoto (1900-1990), When Can We Go Home?
1945 Ansel Adams (1902-1984), Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans
1946 Carlos Bulosan (1913-1956), America is in the Heart
1953 James Wong Howe (1898-1975) wins an Oscar for cinematography
1954 Mi Chou, (1954-1971) the first Chinese-American gallery in the US, its roster of artists include:
Katherine Choy Hui Ka-Kwang
King-Lui Wu Chang Dai-Chien
Chi Pai-Shih Chen Chi-Kwan
Seong Moy Wang Ya-Chun
Fong Chow C.C. Wang
Ton-Fan Group Win Ng
Dale Joe Herbert Lum
Bernice Bing Norkio Yamamoto
1958 Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), The Dharma Bums
1962-3 Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) visits India
1963 Frank O. Gehry (1929- ) establishes Frank O. Gehry and Associates
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Drowning Girl
1964 David Medalla (1942- ), Cloud Canyons: Bubble Mobiles
1965 "Hypertext" is coined by Ted Nelson
1968 Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), after seeing photographs of David Medalla’s bubble machines, Duchamp issues a multiple called Medallic Object
1969 Yoko Ono (1933-), member of Fluxus, orchestrates the famous “bed-in” with husband, John Lennon
1972 Yellow Pearl, a boxed collection of songs, artwork and poetry, is published by Basement Workshop (1971-1989), an activist collective that operated in New York City’s Asian American community; it generated art and music, supported community-based healthcare, and was involved in political organizing
1976 Philip Guston (1913-1980), Hovering
1983 Barbara Kruger (1945- ), You Are a Captive Audience
1989 Godzilla: Asian American Art Network (1990-2001), is a group of New York-based Asian and Pacific Islander visual artists and arts professionals whose goal was to establish a forum fostering information exchange, mutual support, documentation, and networking among its members
1991 Bing Lee (1948- ), More Is More: Three Thousand One Hundred Forty-two Images (Words Not Included)
1994 "Giant Robot," a magazine on Asian and Asian American popular culture, premieres
1995 Edgar Heap of Birds (1954- ), How Bout Them Cowboys
1997 Alice Yang (1961-1997), critic and curator of contemporary art with special attention to Asian and Asian American art, is killed in a hit-and-run accident
1998 Eugenie Tsai is appointed senior curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art
2001 Galleries in Los Angeles Chinatown
Black Dragon Society China Art Objects
INMO Gallery Goldman Tevis
Diannepruess Gallery Acuna-Hansen Gallery

Social Timeline

563 B.C. Siddhartha, born in Nepal, founder of Buddhism
4 AD Birth of Jesus Christ, founder of Christianity
132 Beginning of Jewish Diaspora
622 Mohammed (c. 570-632) flees persecution in Mecca, founds Islamic religion and state.
1002 Leif Ericson sails to North America and establishes a settlement
1206-23 Genghis Khan (1160-1227) crosses Asia and Russia
1368 Beginning of Ming dynasty
1492 Columbus lands in the Bahamas
1784 US participation in the China trade
1820 The arrival of the first Chinese in the US is reported by the Immigration Commission
1861 Japanese immigration to US begins
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act is enacted by Congress bans Chinese immigration to US and prohibits them from becoming naturalized citizens for a ten-year period; repealed in 1943. The Act is the first race-based immigration exclusion in US history
1899 The Filipino-American War
1901 The first Korean immigrant arrives in Hawaii
1904 South Asians begin to emigrate to the US
1917 The Asiatic Barred Zone Act excludes immigration from South and Southeast Asia
1930 Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) leads Salt March to Dandi to protest British tax on salt
1941 Japan, allied with Germany, bombs Pearl Harbor; US enters war
1945 Defeat of Germans and Japanese by Allies; US drops atomic bombs on Japanese cities
War Brides Act of 1945
1946 Philippines gains independence from US
1950 Korean War (1950-53)
1970 March Fong Eu (1922- ), a third-generation Chinese, becomes California's first female Secretary of State
1975 South Vietnam falls
1979 Boston Asian Gay Men and Lesbians (BAGMAL) is believed to be the first organization for lesbian and gay Asians and Pacific Islanders
1985 AIDS is identified as a new, incurable disease
1988 US government offers an apology to Japanese Americans and prepares for reparations