Asian American Voices, Past and Present

By Asian Art Museum

This online exhibit features "Pattern Recognition," a mural by Jenifer K Wofford, and highlights Carlos Villa and Jade Snow Wong, two of the Asian American artists given voice by the new public artwork.

View of Hyde StreetAsian Art Museum

Paying tribute to Asian America, the mural "Pattern Recognition" will inaugurate the Lawrence and Gorretti Lui Hyde Street Art Wall, located on the exterior of the new Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion.

Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process (2020) by Jenifer K WoffordAsian Art Museum

"Pattern Recognition" is a site-specific commission by the San Francisco-based artist, Jenifer K Wofford. Wofford's socially-engaged practice plays with notions of hybridity, authenticity, and global culture.

Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process (2020) by Jenifer K WoffordAsian Art Museum

The speech bubbles name-check prominent figures in Bay Area Asian American art history: Kay Sekimachi, Carlos Villa, Ernie Kim, Arthur Okamura, Chiura Obata, Leo Valledor, Ruth Asawa, Bernice Bing, and Jade Snow Wong.

Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process (2020) by Jenifer K WoffordAsian Art Museum

These patterns draw from works from the collection, including Tibetan bone aprons and Thai Kranok patterns. In particular, Wofford highlights the cultures of the Asian immigrant communities in the neighborhood.

Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process Detail of Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition (2020) by Jenifer K WoffordAsian Art Museum

As a passionate educator, Wofford hopes the mural will elevate underrepresented histories and strengthen the connection between the museum and the local community.

Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process (2020) by Jenifer K WoffordAsian Art Museum

One of the nine Asian American artists name-checked in "Pattern Recognition" is Carlos Villa (1936-2013). The mural also references Villa's signature "spiral" design.

First impressionAsian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum recently acquired Villa's 1981 "First Impressions."

A Bay Area native, Villa grew up in the Tenderloin, attended the San Francisco Art Institute, and later became a teacher there. Wofford is one of many artists who were mentored by Villa at SFAI.

First impression detailAsian Art Museum

To explore Filipino identity, Villa researched Pacific tribal art traditions and incorporated their materials and formats into his art.

His work often included "dolls" created by wrapping bones in thread and hair.

First impressionAsian Art Museum

Later in his career, Villa turned to performance. In addition to exploring ritual in his work, Villa organized public actions such as “Worlds in Collision,” a series of exhibitions, symposia, curricula, publications, and web projects that addressed multiculturalism in the art world.

Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process Jenifer K Wofford's Pattern Recognition in process (2020) by Jenifer K WoffordAsian Art Museum

Another artist in "Pattern Recognition" is the Chinese American artist Jade Snow Wong (1922-2006). The mural depicts the silhouettes of her pottery.

Bowl (1951) by Jade Snow Wong, American, 1922 - 2006Asian Art Museum

More than 40 artworks by Wong can be found in the Asian Art Museum collection.

The theme of “working with one's hands” resonated throughout Wong's career as an artist and a writer. This approach enabled her to create a strong sense of identity that withstood the expectations she faced as an Asian woman.

Large bowl (1975) by Jade Snow Wong, American, 1922 - 2006Asian Art Museum

Wong intended for her ceramics to look handmade. She decorated these with simple carved designs and expressive applications of glaze, resulting in an understated, organic beauty.

Shallow bowl (1942) by Jade Snow Wong, American, 1922 - 2006Asian Art Museum

Wong also experimented with vibrant enamels on copper, layering jewel tones for brilliant effects. These forms were conceived in the fluid shapes of her pottery.

View of Hyde StreetAsian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum is proud to showcase these groundbreaking Asian American artists, past and present, and provide a platform for stories of their history and heritage.

Credits: Story

"Pattern Recognition" is part of "Asian American Experience," which is made possible with the generous support of Glen S. and Sakie T. Fukushima, an anonymous donor in memory of Ambassador and Mrs. Sampson Shen, and Claudine Cheng.

The Hyde Street Art Wall is made possible with the generous support of Lawrence and Goretti Lui.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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