Faces in the Pandemic Art Installation - Chao Center for Asian Studies

Faces in the Pandemic

Press Release

(Houston, TX – Aug 10, 2020)
The Houston Asian American Archive is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition “Faces
in the Pandemic” opening at the Fondren Library on Aug 17 and ending on Nov 15, 2020.

2020 is a year unlike any other. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the global racial strife
sparked by the murder of George Floyd ruptured our sense of normalcy. “Faces in the Pandemic”
is a response to the surreal and dystopian nature of our existence right now. Created with the
participation of interviewees and supporters of the Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA), the
exhibition represents a portrayal of the experiences and perspectives of Asian Americans in the
times of COVID-19, and harkens back to the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Jim Crow
dehumanizing of people of color.

The exhibition consists of two parts: a community photo mural and an art show with artists who
are mainly Houston based. The mural spans across ten wall panels and is made of photos from
120 volunteers from all walks of life. Stages of emotions are reflected in their faces: of grief, anger,
bliss, and contentment. Their gaze seems to question their place in this country that discriminates
by skin color, as they remind us of our shared humanity. Chang Liu, in her aesthetics of codes
and algorithm, created “Random Walker - Dripping” that echoes with the surreal and transient
time we are in. Placed next to the mural, it is an invitation for viewers to situate themselves within
this time capsule alongside the volunteers who contributed to the mural. Both Antonius Tin Bui
and Jennifer Ling Datchuk confront myths about Asians and use traditional art forms from their
culture to tell their diasporic experiences. For Bui, paper is also a metaphor for history. The
derogatory term, “Yellow Peril,” makes a comeback in Bui’s work as it references the current
administration’s scapegoating of immigrants of Asian descent and all “Perils of People of Color,”
while expressing Asian American’s solidarity with “Black Lives Matter”. Datchuk, a ceramics artist
who was trained in Jingdezhen, China’s most heralded source of porcelain, playfully mimicked
two typical Chinese dolls while calling out the Model Minority Myth. Sherry Tseng Hill (’80, ’82)
in her recreation of a historical timeline featuring key Asian American social justice activists,
depicts community mobilization across the globe against structural inequality, systemic racism
and the legacies of colonial empires. Victor Ancheta examines our time in the coronavirus crisis
against the transient nature of life with memento mori (“remember you must die”), a fate no one
can escape. Anthony Pabillano triggers a discourse on colorism by focusing on the various skin
tones of a young girl. Together with Brandon Tho Harris, Irene Kwan, Wen-Hui Shen and Yinxi
, the group takes a strong stand against racial inequality and social injustice.

Featured artists:
- Antonius Tin Bui (they/them; b. 1992, New York, US)
- Anthony Pabillano (b. 1989, Philippines)
- Brandon Tho Harris (b. 1995, Texas, US)
- Chang Liu (b. 1987, China)
- Irene Kwan (b. 1986, Texas, US)
- Jennifer Ling Datchuk (b. 1980, Ohio, US)
- Sherry Tseng Hill (b. 1957, Taiwan)
- Victor Ancheta (b. 1987, Philippines)
- Wen-Hui Shen (b. 1961, Taiwan)
- Yinxi Jushi (b. 1960, China)

The exhibition is organized by the Houston Asian American Archive and funded by the Chao
Center for Asian Studies. Led by Associate Curator Ann Shi, assisted by Lead Intern Sarah Kong,
Assistant Lead Intern Helen Pu, with special thanks to Head of Special Collections Amanda Focke
and the Fondren Library, and to Frank (’78) and Cindy Liu for their generous equipment donation.

About the Houston Asian American Archive
Inaugurated in 2010, founded and led by Dr. Anne S. Chao, the Houston Asian American Archive
(HAAA) is a research and community outreach project focusing on the lives and experiences of
Asian and Asian American community in the greater Houston region. It is managed by the Chao
Center for Asian Studies and housed at the Woodson Research Center of the Fondren Library at
Rice University. With over 250 oral history interviews and numerous items of memorabilia in its
collection, HAAA serves with the mission to create an inclusive portrayal of the Houston Asian
and Asian American community and to provide a documentary history linking these life stories to
larger national, regional, and global narratives.
Social Media: @RiceHAAA, #HoustonAsianAmericanArchive, #FacesInThePandemic
Hours & Admission: Given the restriction of access during COVID-19, the Fondren Library is in
Phase II reopening and is only open to Rice students, staff and faculty until August 24, 2020; after
that, it will be in Phase III reopening. For details, please check library.rice.edu for access.

Appointment might be made through ContactHAAA@rice.edu, but not guaranteed.

Press Contact: Ann Shi, 646-573-6481, ContactHAAA@rice.edu.

Additional Information
Painting by Sherry Tseng Hill: Forvie but Not Forget

Sherry Tseng Hill
Forgive but Not Forget, 2020
Acrylic on Canvas, 48 x 18 in.
Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ann Shi