Sunday, October 06, 2013

I Want the Wide American Earth: Los Angeles

I went to go see my poem "Evolve" on display at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. They're showcasing the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit, "I Want the Wide American Earth," which was previously at the National American History Museum in Washington D.C.

As the exhibit explains:
For decades, “Asian in America” was not the same as “Asian American.” While the earliest immigrants struggled to be legally recognized as citizens, their descendants fought to be seen as “true” Americans. Additionally, Asian Pacific Americans have played key roles in some of the nation’s most important moments—from the long stretches of the Transcontinental Railroad to the toughest battles of World War II to the streets of Oakland to Washington D.C. Alongside some of history’s greatest names, they campaigned for civil rights and social justice—both for themselves and others.

I'm honored to see my poem a part of the exhibit, as both a transcultural adoptee and as a Laotian American. I was also delighted to see several of my peers and students reflected in the exhibit, as well. They did an excellent job selecting a variety of artifacts from the Japanese American National Museum to accompany this exhibit that really helped to build an understanding of how the local can affect the global.

"Evolve" first appeared in the groundbreaking anthology Outsiders Within, from Southend Press. It broke ground as a text examining the jouney of transcultural adoptees in our own words, on our own terms. I gave a reading of "Evolve" during the launch party in Minneapolis, November 18th, 2006:

The Japanese American National Museum is a beautiful space to host the exhibit. The Japanese American National Museum is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry. The founding of the Museum is considered "a story of high hopes, remarkable achievements, frustration, and ultimately, success."

I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and curated by Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Initiative Coordinator Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis. The exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and is a collaborative initiative with Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

It will be available to visit until October 27th.

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