Portraits of New York Chinatown

December 13, 2013 - April 13, 2014

Portraits of New York Chinatown was initiated as an oral history project by artist Tomie Arai and scholar Lena Sze as MOCA prepared to move into its current home in 2009. The project addressed the vital question of MOCA’s own role within the communities of Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo through interviews with 27 neighborhood residents and community leaders. At the core of these conversations were the ever-present concerns of gentrification and displacement. Out of this material, Arai developed interpretive ‘portraits’ based on the content of the interviews.Her composite portrait of Chinatown involves a complex blend of oral history, screen printing, and personal artifacts selected by the artist and her subjects.


Download essays for "Chinatown: Beyond the Streets" here.


Image Credit: Tomie Arai, Framing an American Identity, 1992.



This exhibition and related programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (Museums Program), with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature, and with public finds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support for Portraits of New York Chinatown is provided by the Asian Women Giving Circle and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU.