MUSEUM OF CHINESE IN AMERICA TO OPEN TWO EXHIBITIONS ON ARCHITECTURE IN CHINESE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

A PDF version of the press release is available for download. [English | Chinese]

 

[New York, NY] September 24, 2015-The Museum of Chinese in America is pleased to present two exhibitions exploring architecture in Chinese American communities through suburban homes and urban spaces. SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape and Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923 – 1968, will be on view from September 24, 2015 - January 31, 2016.

 

"From I.M. Pei to Billie Tsien, Chinese Americans have been at the forefront of modern and contemporary architecture,” said MOCA President Nancy Yao Maasbach. “These two exhibitions present little-known architectural achievements in the Chinese American community that reveal how the built environment can reflect debates around cultural identity and social values."


SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape, guest-curated by designer Stephen Fan, is an award-winning, personally rooted, anthropological case study that explores the conversion of suburban single-family homes into multi-family communities by immigrant Chinese casino workers in Connecticut. The exhibition provides insight into the long-term effects of 9/11 on the New York Chinatown service industry as a significant factor behind the influx of Chinese labor seeking employment at the region’s casinos, and the formation of this satellite suburban Chinatown.

 

Through photographs, interviews, mappings, infographics, and architectural representations/ installations, the exhibition seeks to humanize and interpret these informal suburban retrofits in light of local and global economic realities, the cultural backgrounds of these new immigrants, and evolving ideas of domesticity. Addressing the assumptions, norms, and public policies that determine how most Americans live, the exhibition reveals the negotiations made when immigrant cultural beliefs and pragmatism conflict with suburban American social, aesthetic, financial codes, and values. With creative implications for the future of housing design and habitation, SUB URBANISMS offers a powerful inquiry into the ways in which culture shapes our lives and our homes.


Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923 - 1968 is the culmination of three years of research by architectural historian and exhibition guest curator, Kerri Culhane. The exhibition will examine Poy Gum Lee's hybrid modernist influence in New York Chinatown through a retrospective of his life's work in China and the U.S., and a study of his architectural integration of eastern ideas and western technology.

Lee's compelling body of work reflects a cultural transition period in both China and New York Chinatown. The exhibition features more than 80 artifacts, including photographs, architectural drawings and blueprints for both realized and unrealized projects, and other materials that document and explore Lee's 50-year long career in the east and west. Although Lee is revered for his work in China, the exhibition is the first major study of his work undertaken in the U.S.

 

“Understanding how Chinese Americans define and design space has implications for a larger consideration of how we fit into various American landscapes,” said Herb Tam, Curator/Director of Exhibitions at MOCA. “These two exhibitions offer critical contributions to the fields of architecture, urban planning, and anthropology that inform the evolving public discourse on contemporary American society.”

Additional Programs

During the run of the exhibitions, MOCA will offer a series of related events, public programs, family programs, and tours. Guided tours of SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape and Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923 - 1968 will be held every second and fourth Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Visitors can join MOCACREATE drop-in art workshops every first and third Saturday of the month, from 1 – 4 p.m. In addition, MOCA will present a series of exhibitions-related public programs, including a curators’ talk featuring Kerri Culhane on October 8, 2015, and Stephen Fan on October 22, 2015.

 

Please check the museum's website for more information and upcoming programs. For press images, please email press@mocanyc.org.

About the Curators

SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape is guest curated by Stephen Fan with graphics by Shane Keaney, and originally presented at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut where it won the 2015 Paul E. Buchanan Award, Vernacular Architecture Forum; 2015 AASLH Leadership in History Award of Merit, American Association of State and Local History; 2015 CLHO Award of Merit, CT League of History Organizations; and the 2014 CCAPA Media Award, CT Chapter, American Planning Association. Fan is an adjunct professor in the Art History and Architectural Studies Department at Connecticut College. Working at the intersections of art, architecture, history, design, and planning, he has built projects on four continents, and worked at accomplished architectural firms in the U.S. and Japan, constructed low-cost housing in Bolivia and Kenya, and served as a Community Service Fellow at the Boston Redevelopment Authority. More recently, he collaborated with local citizens on a design/build project and grassroots planning strategy for a Japanese community devastated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Fan holds a Master in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Arts in History of Art and Architecture and Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College. He grew up in Southeastern Connecticut.

 

Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923 - 1968 is guest curated by architectural historian Kerri Culhane. Over the past 15 years, Kerri has focused on documenting the historic immigrant neighborhoods of Manhattan's Lower East Side, including Two Bridges, Chinatown, Little Italy, and The Bowery. Kerri holds a Master in Architectural History and Historic Preservation from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Master of Science in Ecological Planning and Design from the Conway School in Massachusetts. She is currently the Associate Director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Catalog
A companion edited volume of SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape, which expands the geographic and theoretic scope of the exhibit, is available at the MOCA bookstore and online at www.stephenfan.com.

SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape and related programs are made possible from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by The Starr Foundation.

Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923 – 1968 and related programs are made possible with the generous support of S.H. Ho Foundation, Con Edison, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, Michael Kaye, and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature.

 

About Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

MOCA’s mission is to celebrate the living history of the Chinese experience in America, to inspire our diverse communities to contribute to America’s evolving cultural narrative and civil society, and to empower and bridge our communities across generations, ethnicities, and geography through our dynamic stories.

 

Hours:
Monday – Closed
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – 11am-6pm
Thursday – 11am-9pm
MOCA First Free Thursdays: Free gallery admission on the first Thursday of each month

 

Admission:
General Admission: $10/ MOCA Members: Free
Seniors (65+ with ID) and Students (with school ID): $5
Children under 12 in groups less than 10: Free
 

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