It’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and so I thought it might be nice to shine a spotlight on some of Metro Los Angeles‘s many Asian American artists, the subject of this week’s post. It was a bit of an undertaking for many reasons. There are and have been many Asian American artists who’ve at one time called Los Angeles home. After all, Metro Los Angeles is home to the US’s largest populations of Burmese, Indonesians, and Mongolians. Metro Los Angeles is home to the world’s largest communities (outside of their respective homelands) of Cambodians, Filipinos, Hawaiians, Iranians, Koreans, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese. Asia the largest and most populous continent, home to more than half the world’s population — and to people who speak over 2,300 languages. And then, on top of that, the AAPI umbrella includes most of the Pacific Islands. The Pacific Plate is the largest tectonic plate and Los Angeles is home to large populations of people from that region as well. Los Angeles County is home to more than 1.5 million Americans of Asian or Pacific Island background — more than any other county in the US by some measure. Thus, it seems reasonable to assume that Metro Los Angeles has surely been home to more Asian and Pacific Islander artists than any other American city.
There’s also the fact that most artists, while more than happy to write long and baffling artists statement’s, are loathe to provide more than the barest of biographical details. And the local media aren’t much help either. Even though Asians are the largest and fastest growing “racial” minority in Los Angeles, well-funded and respectable mainstream outlets mostly overlook Asian Angeleno culture except for when it comes to restaurants. Thus we’re subjected to listicle after listicle concerned with Korean BBQ, Sichuan restaurants, boba joints, and little else. That left me to do a lot of research. So while those lame sites do little with huge staff and resources, please remember that I am just one person with five Patrons and a not-unlimited amount of time. If I have left off any artists you’d like to see included, please let me know in the comments or by writing to me and I will add them as soon as I’m able to find the time.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ASIAN ANGELENO ART
California has, since its creation in 1850, always boasted the largest population of Asian Americans. As of 2022, there were 6,551,732 Asian Californians, more than three and a half times the population of a distant second New York. It should come as no surprise, then, that California has always been home to Asian Californian artists and exhibiting a variety of artistic expressions, styles, and disciplines.
In 1854, Chinese San Franciscan photographer Ka Chau produced a photograph titled “Daguerrean Establishment,” making him likely the first Asian American photographer in the state. Oakland-based Marion Evelyn Wong (黃女娣) became the first Asian American filmmaker when she completed The Curse of Quon Gwon: When the Far East Mingles with the West around 1916. Meanwhile, Chinatown‘s SooChow Café emerged as a popular hangout for Asian Angeleno artists such as a group of nisei artists known as a group who called themselves the Ateliers. The 1940s saw Asian Angeleno architects design brilliant Mid-Century buildings. The 1960s introduced oldest Asian American theater company, East West Players. Since then and all along the way, there have been hundreds if not thousands of Asian Angelenos painting, drawing, animating, sculpting, photographing, creating conceptual art, designing clothing, making video art, crafting performance art, creating installations, &c.
Attempting to define “art” is, to my mind, unrewarding if not impossible — but for the purposes of this piece, I’m focusing on visual artists, clothing designers, ceramicists, crafters, &c. While I love architecture and performing arts, I had to draw the line somewhere — and have covered some of those fields in the past. Finally, I encourage you to support local artists and artisans. Doing so is one of the best ways to weave oneself into the cultural fabric of Los Angeles. Leave those generic prints and posters to college dorm rooms, IKEA showrooms, and painfully basic Airbnbs.
Ahree Lee is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in new media, textiles, and video. She was born in Seoul. She received her BA in English Literature and an MFA in graphic design from Yale University. Her video, “Me,” was shown by Steve Jobs in Apple’s demo of Apple TV. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, musician Nathan Melsted, and their daughter.
AKIKO KATO RUIZ
Akiko Kato Ruiz is a graphic designer and live sketch artist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Joshibi University of Art. After moving to California, she worked as a graphic designer in the apparel industry and later as a fashion illustrator. In 2014, she launched akrDesignStudio.
Ako Castuera is a comic writer and storyboard artist, best known for her work on Adventure Time and Metalocalypse. Castuera’s father is Mexican and her mother Okinawan. Castuera was born in a commune. She graduated from the California College of the Arts (CCA) and afterward moved to Los Angeles.
Aimee Thieu is a self-taught sculptor who works primarily with ceramics and paper. Thieu also makes pottery.
Amy Yao is a musician, curator, and artist. From 1993 until 1997, Yao was a member of pioneering riot grrrl band, Emily’s Sassy Lime with Yao’s sister, Wendy, and fellow artist, Emily Ryan. Yao earned a BFA from the ArtCenter College of Design in 1999 and the same year co-founded China Art Objects Galleries. She got her MFA from Yale University. Today she’s a lecturer in visual arts at Princeton University.
After graduating from the University of Houston with a BS in Psychology, Anh Nguyen worked as a marketing manager for a decade. Whilst traveling across Europe, she deiced to change course. In 2015, she founded the Wicked Boheme, a home decor brand for which Nguyen created the initial line of products. Today she works with artisans from around the world.
Ann Le is a contemporary artist and educator. Le was born in San Diego. She obtained a BFA in photography from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), and an MFA from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).
Ann Phong is a mixed media artist, painter, and art professor. Phong was born in Saigon. She taught junior high and high school before fleeing Vietnam in a boat in 1981 when she was 22 years old. She moved from refugee camps to Connecticut before settling in Southern California in 1982. After working as a dental assistant, she decided to pursue studying fine art at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and later, CSUF.
Annie Hong, who also goes by “Hootnannie”, is a self-taught graphic and visual artist. Hong moved to Seoul around 2015 and, subsequently, back to Los Angeles, whey they’ve painted numerous highly-visible murals and other works of public art.
ANTON MAGSARILI CABAL REYES
Antón Magsarili Cabal Reyes is an artist an a member of the collective, The Tuesday Club.
Asahachi Kono was a photographer. He was born Asahachi Kawano on 29 December 1876 in Omi. He emigrated to the US in 1896. He married, his wife died, and he remarried a single mother. He worked at T. Iwata Art Store in Little Tokyo. His photography was often of the Sierra Nevada. He returned to Omi around 1936 and taught photography there. He died on 14 June 1943.
Audrey Chan is a Chinese American artist, writer, and educator. She was born in Chicago. Chan received a BA from Swarthmore College and her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Chan was an artist-in-residence at the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts de Nantes. Chan co-edits the ‘zine, Would Be Saboteurs Take Heed, named after a song by Emily’s Sassy Lime.
Ben Sakoguchi is a Japanese American artist best-known for his Orange Crate Label series. He was born in San Bernardino. At the age of five, he was interned with his family at the Poston War Relocation Center, a World War II concentration camp in Arizona. In 1960, Sakoguchi earned a BFA from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), followed by an MFA from the same institution in 1964. Sakoguchi taught at Pasadena City College (PCC) from 1964 until his retirement in 1997.
Benji Okubo was a Japanese American painter, teacher, and landscape architect. He was born on 27 October 1904 in Riverside, the first of seven children born to Miejoko Kato and Tometsugu “Frank” Okubo. From 1927 until 1929 he was enrolled at the Otis College of Art and Design (Otis). Okubo served as director of the Art Students League from 1940 until 1942, when he was interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, a World War II concentration camp in Ralston, Wyoming. There he initiated art classes with Hideo Date. He married one of his students, Chisato Takashima, in 1945. They had a daughter, Mi-Ya Okubo. Okubo died on 15 April 1975 and his widow donated his paintings to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles (JANM).
BIENVENIDO “BOI” SIBUG
Bienvenido “Boi” Sibug is an painter and photographer. He was born in Manila. He wanted to be an architect but his father encouraged him to study economics, which he did at the University of the East (UE). Having no interest in economics, though, he transferred to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) where to study architecture but, since there were no openings, instead studied advertising and fine art. He emigrated to Guam in 1992 and later to Los Angeles.
BUILDING BLOCK (KIMBERLY AND NANCY WU)
Sisters Kimberly and Nancy Wu grew up in Los Angeles. They went to school at the ArtCenter College of Design. Afterward, they ended up on separate sides of the Pacific. Kimberly Wu designed cars in Tokyo for Honda’s Advanced Studio. Nancy Wu designed shoes for Nike in Portland. Then they returned to Los Angeles where they founded Building Block in Chinatown in 2012, where they combine their industrial design talents to make handbags, shoes and accessories, often out of unexpected materials.
CARL F. K. CHENG
Carl F. K. Cheng is an artist born in San Francisco. He began studying art and design at UCLA in 1958. In 1964 Cheng received a fellowship to study at the Folkwang Universität der Künste. In 1967, he established John Doe Co. His sculpture, Water Lens Tower, was created in 1992, part of a requirement by the Community Redevelopment Agency for public art.
Carolyn Suzuki is an artist, designer, writer, and activist. Suzuki was born in Los Angeles. In the late 1990s and early 2000s she worked on the production side of several animated projects. She sells her work as Carolyn Suzuki Goods.
Carrie Lau is a Highland Park-based artist and designer who makes blankets, ceramics, tote bags, and other objects sold as Object-Matter (O-M). Lau was born in Hong Kong and moved to Los Angeles around 2009.
Carrin Tanaka is a film score composer who has scored more than a dozen films — mostly shorts — since 2010. She also makes home decor objects as Gliss Prints, an endeavor that began as a side project.
Catherine Yan is a ceramics artist who produces ceramic objects as Cyan Ceramics.
Celina Taganas-Duffy is a poet, photographer, digital artist, graphic artist, and painter. In 2000, she founded Tagline Communications. She has also chaired Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI) and been on the board of the South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC).
Cesar Devara is a graphic designer and painter. He was born in the Philippines. He earned his BFA from UST. In 1975, he co-founded Lakbay Sining. He emigrated to California in 1983. He co-founded the Filipino-American Art League in 2000.
Cha-Rie Tang is an architect, artist, designer, and public artist. Tang is the founder of Pasadena Craftsman Tile.
Chloe Hsu is a storyboard artist, animator, and illustrator. After graduating from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts she attended CalArts. She worked as a storyboard artist and revisionist on Elizabeth Ito’s Netflix series City of Ghosts and on a variety of projects with Chromosphere.
Christine Fu is an animal lover and artist whose pet portrait studio is known as Catvaggio.
Chusien Chang was born and raised in Brazil. She moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, from which she received an MFA. She has created public art for the Los Angeles Metro‘s Chinatown Station, the Los Angeles River (temporary), and in Shanghai.
CINDY HSU ZELL
Cindi Kusuda is a designer and artist. She obtained a BFA from CalArts whilst also working as a design intern at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (now known as the Craft Contemporary) and JANM. She subsequently worked as a senior graphic designer at the Fowler Museum.
Cindy Tung makes fiber art and jewelry as the brand, Marley & Alfie, a company she established in 2013.
Clement Hanami is an artist and art director at JANM. His father was a photographer and senryū poet. His mother was a seamstress and painter. He was raised in Maravilla. In college at East Los Angeles College, he became a roadie for Los Illegals. He received his MFA from UCLA. He has been exhibiting his thematic installations and multi-media work since 1986. He taught New Genres at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
Hoi Yin Connie Wong is a multidisciplinary artist. She also works as a designer and illustrator. Wong was born in Hong Kong and moved to the US when she was seventeen. She got an MFA from Cornell University, a BFA from the ArtCenter College of Design, and an AA from PCC. She began publicly exhibiting her art in 2004.
champoy (née Janeil Sumampong Lim) is a filmmaker, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. He was born and raised in Bukidnon. He earned a BFA from the University of San Carlos and an MFA from the University of California, Berkeley.
CHRISTINE YERIE LEE
Christine Yerie Lee is a performance/video artist. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Younja Claire Lee, a traditional Korean dancer. She got a BFA in apparel design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)emmaand after a decade working for labels transitioned her focus and enrolled at CalArts, where she graduated with an MFA. She began exhibiting her art in 2010.
Danni Fisher-Shin is an art director, animator, and illustrator. She was born in Los Angeles. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Otis.
Danvy Pham is a self-taught painter. She was born in Saigon and raised in Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles. Pham began painting when she was in her thirties whilst studying voice and acting under Laura Heart.
Darrin Pattanumotana is an illustrator, screen-printer, and designer. She has sold screen prints as My Name Is Not Darren since 2007.. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design (FIDM)with a degree in fashion and apparel design. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Brighton.
David Choe is a journalist, musician, podcast host and artist. He was born in Los Angeles to two born-again Christians. He was raised in Koreatown where he got involved in the street art scene. He briefly attended the CCA. In 1996, he published a graphic novel, Slow Jams. In 2008, he and Harry Kim made an autobiographical documentary, Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe. In 2013, Choe began hosting DVDASA, a podcast, with co-host Asa Akira.
Decue Wu is an art director and illustrator who uses computers, screen-printing, and collage. She was born Diyou Wu in China into a Hakka family. She studied digital media art at Zhejiang University and afterward moved to the US in 2012. After getting an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Wu moved to Los Angeles.
Devon Tsuno is a painter and installation artist. He as born in Los Angeles. He received a BFA from CSULB and an MFA from Claremont Graduate University (CGU). Tsuno is an assistant professor of art at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Dez Einswell is a web designer, sculptor, painter, graffitist, toy designer, and illustrator.
Dwinisa Perkel is an adventurer, crafter, and artist. She was born in Jakarta and moved to New York City in 2010. There, she apprenticed in the East Village with sandal maker Barbara Shaum. She studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and took jewelry design classes at 92Y. She relocated to Los Angeles during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Ellen Nguyen is an incense maker and spiritual entrepreneur. She earned a BFA from the University of California, Irvine, and subsequently enrolled at CalArts’s school of film. In the 2000s, she was one half of the DJ duo Em & Em with fellow Viet Angelena artist, Emily Ryan. Nguyen quit her stressful job, refocused, and launched United Other in 2017.
Emily Ryan is an Orange County-based artist who formerly lived in Atwater. With Amy and Wendy Yao, Emily formed Emily’s Sassy Lime (both a palindrome and backronym for “ESL”) in 1993 — the first rock band composed entirely of Asian American women. Emily’s Sassy Lime disbanded when the members all went off to college. Emily enrolled at USC. In the 2000s, Emily was one half, with fellow Viet Angelena artist Ellen Nguyen, of the DJ duo, Em & Em.
Faustino Caigoy is a multi-disciplinary artist, muralist, and poet.
Felicia Liang is an artist who primarily creates digital and colored pencil illustrations. She studied economics and psychology at UC Berkeley and worked as a management consultant and product manager before transitioning into art.
Gajin Fujita (ガジン・フジタ) is a graffitist from Boyle Heights. His father was a painter and his mother a conservator. He is a member of the graffiti crews K2S (Kill 2 Succeed) and KGB (Kids Gone Bad). He earned a BFA from Otis and an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Gala Porras-Kim is an interdisciplinary artist. She was born in Bogotá. She attended CalArts and UCLA.
George Takamura was a sculptor from West Los Angeles. During World War II, he was incarcerated at the Manzanar War Relocation Center.
HAES MURI LEE
HANA EUNJIN YEAN
Hana Eunjin Yean is a Glendale-based illustrator and animator. She was born in Seoul and emigrated to Toronto when she was fourteen for high school. Afterward, she moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at ArtCenter, where she earned a BFA. currently an art director at Gentleman Scholar.
Hana Ward is a blogger, painter, and ceramicist based in West Adams. She was born in Los Angeles. She earned a BA from Brown University in 2011. She is the co-founder of the handmade ceramicware company, Uno+Ichi.
HANH THI PHAM
Hanh Thi Pham is an activist, installation artist, and photographer. She was born in Saigon and came to California as a refugee in 1975. She earned a BA and an MFA from CSUF.
Han Cao is a self-taught fiber artist and calligrapher formerly of Los Angele who now lives in Dallas.
Harry Hayashida was a photographer. He was born in Oakland on 14 December 1908. He was the only nisei member of the Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California (JCPC) and its last living member. Hayashida married in 1937 and the couple had two sons. He avoided incarceration in a World War II concentration camp by moving to Utah where he operated a produce stand and took odd jobs. We primarily worked as a gardener both before and after the war, primarily at the Chapman Park Hotel and then, after it closed in the 1960s, for the owner of Gelson’s. He died on 29 November 2005.
HARRY KINJI SHIGETA
Harry Kinji Shigeta (aka Harry Kinzi Shigeta) was a photographer. He was born 5 July 1887 in Ueda. He emigrated to Seattle in 1902, hoping to reunite with an uncle — although he never found him. In the US, he adopted the given name “Henry” and found work as a hotel clerk and clothing salesman before moving to St. Paul in 1903 to study art. He moved to Los Angeles around 1910 and worked as a retoucher in a photography studio. He married a fellow retoucher in 1916. He opened his open studio and school in Little Toyko in 1918. He worked at Filmland magazine before moving to Chicago in 1924, where he worked at Moffet Studio. He and George Wright formed Shigeta-Wright, an advertising studio, in 1930. When the US entered World War II, he was forced to sell his share of the company but was allowed to remain an employee. After the war, he regained his share before returning to Los Angeles where he died of a heart attack on 21 April 1963.
Heidi Baker is a clothing designer. After graduating from high school in San Francisco, she earned a BA from James Madison University. After working for years at Levi Strauss in San Francisco, she moved to Los Angeles around 2012 and founded the clothing line, Ozma of Los Angeles in 2015.
Hellen Jo is a writer, songwriter, cartoonist, and illustrator based in Eagle Rock. She was born in the South and raised in San Jose. She dropped out of the Academy of Art University and moved to Los Angeles in 2011.
Hideo Date was a painter. He was born in Osaka on 5 January 1907. He emigrated to Fresno in 1923 to rejoin his family. They moved to Los Angeles around 1925 and in 1928, he enrolled at Otis where he began painting. His art combined elements of Nihonga and Synchromism. Otis’s director urged him to stop painting in the “Oriental manner” and he dropped out. He then returned to Japan and enrolled at the Kawabata Gakko before returning to Los Angeles in 1930. He was a member of the artists collective, the Independents. He was incarcerated at Heart Mountain during World War II. There he focused his artistic energy on drawing cats. He returned to Los Angeles in 1947 but shortly after relocated to Queens where he married Yuriko Tamaki and became a citizen in 1955. Date died on 6 January 2005, the day after his birthday.
Hirokazu Kosaka is a conceptual artist, performance artist, sculptor, calligrapher, Shingon Buddhist priest, and the visual arts director at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. He was born in Wakayama. He emigrated from Kyoto to Los Angeles in 1966 and enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute, where he earned a BFA. He returned to Japan and then traveled extensively before returning to Los Angeles in 1976.
Hiromu Kimura was a photographer. He was born on 5 April 1889 in Hawai‘i. He was schooled in Japan, however, until he was sixteen, when his family moved to Canada. Two years of high school later, he moved to Seattle, where he married in 1921. He first took up photography in 1919 but supported himself by selling shoes and sewing machines. After he was hired by the Main Drug Store to work in the photography lab, he met other photographers and co-founded the Seattle Camera Club. He moved to Los Angeles in 1926 and got a job at the T. Iwata Art Store in Little Tokyo. He became an associate of the Royal Photographic Society in 1928 and a fellow in 1929.During World War II, he was incarcerated at the Gila River Relocation Center. After the war, he worked primarily as a photographic retoucher for Hollywood film studios. He died on 19 July 1991.
Hisao E. Kimura was a photographer. He was born 10 August 1902 in Japan. He emigrated to the US in 1916. He joined his brothers as a laborer in the grape fields around Fresno before they moved to Los Angeles and founded a dry goods store in Little Tokyo, Kimura Bros. He briefly returned to Japan to marry. He was a charter member of the JCPC. During World War II, he was incarcerated at Manzanar. After the war, he worked in Toyo Miyatake‘s studio until his family opened Kimura Photomart in 1955. He died of cancer on 21 March 1975.
HUNG VIET NGUYEN
Hung Viet Nguyen is a painter. He was born in Vietnam and studied biology at the Science University in Saigon. After coming to the US in 1982, he began working as an illustrator, graphic artist, and designer.
IANAHAK K. TANAKA
Ianahak Tanaka was a photographer who usually attributed his works to I. K. Tanaka or K. Tanaka. The “K” may have stood for Keiji. He joined the JCPC in 1927 and remained a member through 1934. He lived in Little Toyko. Little else is known about him but he may have returned to Japan before World War II.
Ichiro Itani was a photographer. He was born on 26 March 1903 in Wakayama Prefecture. He emigrated to California in 1918 and adopted the given name, “Eddie.” He joined the JCPC in 1928. He worked as a shoe salesman whilst taking classes at ArtCenter. In 1937, he opened a portrait studio in San Pedro. Issues with his eyes, though, led to him closing the studio and opening a cafe. He married but his wife died in childbirth in 1926. He remarried but his son died when he was four years old. During World War II, Itani and his wife were incarcerated at Heart Mountain. After the war ended, Itani worked as a gardener. He was naturalized as an American citizen in 1954. His second wife died in 1955. He remarried a single mother in 1956. He died of emphysema on 16 October 1986.
IRIS YIREI HU
Isao Hirai is a model maker and public artist. He was born in Sapporo and his family soon after moved to Brazil. Hirai moved to Venezuela in 1958. In 1966, Hirai moved to Los Angeles and began making models first for the Ralph M. Parson Company and later, Lawndale‘s Scale Model Toys, of which he is the president. His Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial is a scale model of the Challenger space shuttle.
JAMES TADANO SATA (1896-1975)
James Tadano Sata was a visual artist who worked in drawing, painting, and photography. He was born on 5 June 1896 in Kagoshima. He emigrated to San Francisco in 1918 and found work as a servant before starting a grocery store that clued during the Depression. In the US, he adopted the given name, “James.” Aft the Depression, he worked at the T. Iwata Art Store. He was a charter member of the JCPC. He married in 1931 and the couple had a boy. He was hit by a car in 1932, a collision that left him with a limp and began a period of artist inactivity. He resumed exhibiting internationally in 1936. During World War II, he and his family were incarcerated at the Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas. In 1944, they were transferred to Gila River, where he headed the art club. After the war ended, Sata was employed as a maintenance worker at the Westridge School in Pasadena. He died on 14 August 1975.
Jane Cho is a tattoo artist at Outer Limits Tattoo & Piercing in Costa Mesa. She was born in Seoul. She emigrated to Los Angeles in 1992. She fell in love with tattoos whilst a teenager in Venice. When she came home with one, her Catholic parents took her to an exorcist.
Janel Foo is a stained glass artist based in Highland Park. Her love of stained glass was awakened whilst taking a jewelry class at PCC. She also took a stained glass class at Stained Glass Supplies in Pasadena. She founded Janel Foo Glassworks in 2015. More recently, she founded Create to Stop Hate.
Jennifer Kuroki is an East Hollywood-based ceramist who sells her work as Jen E Ceramics. Kuroki was born in East Los Angeles. She attended UCLA, USC, and ArtCenter College of Design. When the company that she worked for moved to Chicago, she opted to stay in Los Angeles. She worked as an art director and came to ceramics through physical therapy.
JENNIFER SUNG PAK
Jennifer Sung Pak is a jewelry designer who founded Gjenmi in 2013 and is based in Highland Park. Pak has two children, Theodore and Luna.
Jessica Lee is a clothing designer who sells hand-dyed clothing as Things Between.
JO SITU ALLEN
Jo Situ Allen is a naturalist, muralist, designer, and comics artist based in Laguna Beach, and who sells her work as Dirty Eraser. She grew up in China. She pursued bryology at UCLA, where she got a degree in geography/environmental studies. In 2001, she created a riot grrrl-influenced comic, Present, Not Perfect. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School in 2009. She co-founded a sustainability agency, lived in Hong Kong, gave birth to two children,
John “Keebs” Lee is a Koreatown-based illustrator. He was born in Torrance and formerly worked as a web designer.
Joy Cho is an author as well as the creative director and founder of the clothing and housewares company, Oh Joy!
JUAN “MAGOO” VALENCIA
Juan “Magoo” Valencia is a watercolorist. He studied fine art at the University of the Philippines. He was a member of The Saturday Group of Artists and a co-founder of the Philippine Watercolor Society. He’s now long been based in Metro Los Angeles.
Juliana Hung is a Pasadena-based industrial designer ceramicist who sells her work as Jujumade, a line that grew out of a blog of the same name. She also owns The Wax Apple shop which showcases Taiwanese-made objects. Hung’s childhood was at least partially spent in Taiwan. She graduated from ArtCenter.
Kaoru Mansour is a musician and painter. She was born in Japan. She worked in a medical lab but was drawn to the arts, dropped out of college, got a job at a graphics company in Kobe, and began singing in a band. She moved to Los Angeles in 1986 to study at Otis. As a musician, she has performed with A Thousand Other Names, Acre Foot, Splinter Group, Unique Cheerful Events, UZU UZU Band. She released the solo records, Tanta Hasha and Welcome To Our Breakfast.
KAREN LEE WILLIAMS
Karen Lee Williams is a multidisciplinary artist. She grew up in Redondo Beach. She earned a BA in fine art and art history from UCLA and afterward worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She subsequently earned an MFA in visual arts from Purchase College.
Karen Tong is an Eagle Rock-based ceramicist who sells her work as Heo Ceramics She was born to immigrants from Vietnam and raised in Little Saigon. Her mother was a pediatrician. As an optometrist, she spent five years in the Navajo Nation running the eye clinic in a hospital there. She is a cousin of singer Sandra Vu (SISU).
Katherine Ahn is a Los Angeles based designer, art director, and photographer. She’s originally from Laguna Niguel. She went to ArtCenter and School of Visual Arts, in New York City. She works at David&Goliath, a creative agency based in El Segundo.
KATSUNOBU “KAYE” SHIMOJIMA
Katsunobu Shimojima was a photographer who published his works as Kaye Shimojima. He was born on 8 February 1888 in Nakagawa. He emigrated to the US in 1907, where he first worked as a house cleaner in San Francisco. He later moved to Sacramento where he was hired by photographer Clarence Aldrich. He began making his own art photography there and subsequently moved to Los Angeles around 1923. He was a charter member of the JCPC but returned to Japan around 1929, joined the Nihon Shashinkai, and wrote at least six books about photography. He lived and worked in the Tokyo area and most of his photographs were destroyed during the World War II bombing of that city. He’s believed to have died around 1938.
Kay Yee is a Pasadena-based metalsmith who began her education in metalworking at a community college in San Francisco. She earned a BFA from CCA and an MFA from CSULB. She taught at PCC for 33 years. When she retired from academia, her husband built a home studio.
Keiko Fukazawa is a ceramicist based in Los Angeles. Her works generally incorporate East Asian motifs but also draw upon graffiti and other styles. She was born in Niigata and grew up in Tokyo. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Musashino Art university. She moved to the US — first to Colorado — before settling in Los Angeles in 1984, drawn, in part, by her interest in the California Funk Movement. She earned a degree from Otis in 1986. She went on to teach at the Department of Corrections, California Rehabilitation Center in Norco and as adjunct faculty at Otis. She spent three years in Jingdezhen, from 2013 to 2016. She retired in 2019, having last taught at Pasadena City College.
Kenneth Hung is an artist and illustrator who also works as a color at Disney. The subject of much of his work is Los Angeles’s restaurant scene. He previously worked at Nickelodeon and Dream Works.
Kentaro Nakamura was a photographer. He was born in Japan around 1894. He emigrated to the US in 1914, when he was twenty years old. He joined his family: mother Tame, father Toratora, and California-born sibling, Sei, in Cypress Park. In 1920, Nakamura worked at a soup factory. He married and had two children, Henry and Ruth. He was a charter member of the JCPC and remained active with them through 1935. He is likely the same Kentaro Nakamura who died on 15 March 1938.
KyungHwa Lee (이경화) is a Los Feliz-based visual art, new media artist, director, and writer. She serves as the international director of the Nam June Paik Cultural Foundation and is a columnist for The Korea Times. Lee was born in Seoul and, as a child, also lived in Japan. Lee developed an interest in architecture and received her Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Kim Teru Yasuda is a professor, installation artist, and public artist. She was born in Oakland. She earned a BFA from San Jose State University and an MFA from USC. She has been a professor of spatial studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, since 1992.
Ko Lee is a DJ, musician, and artist. She records music as K.O. aka Koala. She was born in Florida to a chemist father and disease researcher mother. She lived in New York City before relocating to Los Angeles in 2018.
Kristina Yu is a designer and illustrator. She’s also the owner and creative director behind Cheery Human Studios, which she founded in 2016. Yu is a Los Angeles native. She studied web design and new media in the San Francisco Bay Area and got hired at a design studio but missed Los Angeles and so moved back.
Kumezu Ota was a photographer. He was born in Japan on 5 May 1877. After emigrating to California, he worked as a gardener in Pasadena at a private residence. He left that job in 1921 and opened a photography studio in Downtown Pasadena. He usually signed his art photographs “K. Ota.” He died on 7 October 1934.
Kwonyin is a “healing artist and emotional alchemy guide.” Her name is derived from Quan Yin (觀音), the goddess of compassion. She was the second daughter born to two Korean immigrants. She lived in Berlin for eight years and moved to Los Angeles around 2016.
LELAND Y. LEE
Leland Y. Lee was an architectural photographer. He was born in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1916. His birth name was Lay Quonn Yuen and he was the youngest of a family of four children born to a tailor and Cantonese mother. When he was ten years old, he was admitted to the Voorhis School for Boys in San Dimas. It was there that Yee began learning the art of photography. In 1942, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps. While in Shanghai, his family introduced him to Ye Lien and the two were married on 1 June 1946. After the war ended he eared a degree from the ArtCenter College of Design. From 1952 to 1961 he was Julius Shulman‘s assistant. His wife died in 2001, his house caught fire in 2002, and he retired. He died on 27 February 2016 in Lynwood.
Lili Chin is an illustrator, animator, writer, and portrait artist who specializes in depicting dogs. She was born in Malaysia. She lived in Australia for twenty years. There she established an animation studio with her ex-partner and created Mucha Lucha! in 2002. Chin moved to Los Angeles from Sydney in the early 2000s. She founded Doggie Drawings around 2007. She wrote and illustrated Doggie Language: A Dog Lover’s Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend in 2020.
Linda Hsiao is an Altadena-based industrial designer, ceramicist, and wood artist. Hsiao was born in Orange County and raised on a farm there. She was formally trained in industrial design at the Pratt Institute and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. She co-founded Knotwork LA with her partner, Kagan Taylor, which makes a variety of objects but mostly nerikomi-inspired ceramics.
Linda Nishio is an Altadena-based yoga teacher, graphic designer, and artist. Nishio was born in Los Angeles. She studied art at the University of Kansas and earned an MFA from Rutgers University. Her first public performance was at the Franklin Furnace in New York City in 1979. She moved back to Los Angeles around 1980 and had her first studio in the Woman’s Building in Dogtown. She founded Linda Nishio Design in 1986 and created the New World Pictures logo for Roger Corman. She later taught at Otis. Since 2005, she’s taught Iyengar Yoga.
Lisa Hsieh is a clothing designer. She got her BA from the University of California, San Diego. She created the line, Mien Studios, in 2015, when she was pregnant with her son and couldn’t find any maternity clothes that she liked.
Lisha Tan is a Santa Monica-based illustrator, animator, and ceramist. Her ceramics line is LilChotchke. She is a creative director at Mill+ where she has worked since 2014. She studied art at the Sydney College of the Arts and moved to California around 2006.
Lun*na Menoh is a musician and artist whose art generally incorporates clothing and fashion. Born in Japan, she moved to Los Angeles in 1989. In 2000, she started the duo, Seksu Roba, with Sukho Lee. After the dissolution of Seksu Roba, Lun*na Menoh formed Jean Paul Yamamoto. In 2012, she formed Les Sewing Sisters with Saori Mitome, in which the sewing machine is the featured instrument. She is married to writer Tosh Berman.
Makoto Mizutani is a San Pedro-based furniture designer who co-founded Scout Regalia with Benjamin Ludd in 2008. She earned a BFA in political science from UCLA and afterward enrolled at the Southern California Institute of Architecture where she was also a teaching assistant for three years.
MARIA CRISTINA “TIINZ” TARUC
Maria Cristina “Tiinz” Taruc is a painter.
MARIA MILA “OLA” DELA FUENTE
Maria Mila “Ola” Dela Fuente is an artist who has exhibited at FASGI.
Mat Relox is a Pasadena-based singer, illustrator, and painter. He was born in Calapan.
Matsumi Kanemitsu was a painter and printmaker. He studied in New York City and Paris before coming to Los Angeles in 1965. In Southern California, he applied aspects of the hake and sumi traditions to created what he called “naturescapes.” He was also a member of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, an art teacher, and helped organize a gallery of Japanese artists. He died in 1992.
May Sun is a artist best known for her public art. She was born in Shanghai and moved with her family to Hong Kong when she was two years old. they emigrated to the US in 1971. Sun attended the University of San Diego (USD). Sun earner her BA from UCLA and afterward attended Otis. She later taught at CalArts.
Maya Slininger is a fiber artist who markets her work as Juniper + Fir. She has worked as a set dresser and in the art department for several television series.
MEI XIAN QIU
Midori Shimoda was a photographer. He was born in Hiroshima on 26 March 1911. He emigrated to Seattle on 27 September 1919 where he was reunited with his father and adopted the given name, “Arthur.” They moved to Southern California and Shimoda attended Pasadena High School. He went to college at Pasadena Junior College (now PCC). He worked as an assistant for eight months in William Mortensen‘s Laguna Beach studio before opening his own studio in Pasadena in 1936. When the US entered World War II, Shimoda was sponsored by a Mormon family in Utah and thus avoided incarceration in a concentration camp. He married in 1945 and the couple had three children. He was naturalized in 1955 and opened a photography studio in Manhattan. He died from complications related to Alzheimer’s on 13 September 1996.
Mika Yokota is an artist. He was born in Kyoto. He got a BS in atmospheric science from UCLA, He’s studying for an MFA at Otis.
Miné Okubo was a writer and artist. She was born on 27 June 1912 in Riverside. She received an MFA from the UC Berkeley. After receiving the Bertha Taussig Memorial Traveling Fellowship in 1938, she embarked on a two-year visit to France and Italy. After returning to the US, she was commissioned by the United States Army and Works Progress Administration to create mosaic and fresco murals. Miné and her brother, Toku, were incarcerated at the Topaz War Relocation Center from 1942 to 1944. Inside the concentration camp, she made over 2,000 drawings of daily life, many of which were included in her book, Citizen 13660. After the war, she moved to New York. She died in Greenwich Village on 10 February 2001. Mary H. Curtin and Theresa Larkin wrote a play about her, Miné: A Name For Herself.
Mirena Kim is a writer, painter, graphic designer, teacher, and ceramicist. Kim was born in Korea and emigrated to Los Angeles when she was six years old. In the 1990s, she was working as a graphic designer in New York City when she enrolled in a class at Columbia Clay Works in Brooklyn. She, her husband, and two children moved to Los Angeles where she started Mirena Kim Ceramics in 2013. She later earned her MFA from Otis.
Mipa Shin is a Cypress Park-based dancer, choreographer, and ceramicist who specializes in making planters. Shina founded Mipa’s Pots and Plants. Shina was born in Korea and emigrated to New York City where she earned her master’s in dance from New York University. She moved to Koreatown with her husband Isaiah Yoo in 2017 and initially taught pilates.
Misa Miyagawa is a designer and the founder of the women’s loungewear and underwear line Botanica Workshop, which she created in 2014. Miyagawa got her education from both the Parsons School of Design and Central St. Martins College of Art & Design.
Misato Suzuki is a Carlsbad-based designer and artist. She was born in Aomori. She earned her BA from Central Washington University and her MFA from CGU. In the 2000s, she worked as a graphic designer for a womenswear line and a snowboard company.
Nami Oh is a sign painter and muralist based in Los Angeles. After working in the apparel industry and other fields, she founded Ohnami Signs in 2018.
Nancy Uyemura is a designer, print-maker, painter, sculptor, and public artist. She was born and raised in Los Angeles. She earned a BA from UCLA and an MS in education from USC. She also studied in Japan and at Otis. For 33 years, she lived and worked at 800 Traction, a well-known artists’ colony.
Naoshi Sunae (砂絵アーティスト ナオ氏) is a manga-influenced sand painter. Sunae was born in Iwate. After graduating in information systems management, she got a job at a consulting firm in Tokyo. She began making sand art in 2004 after having her artistic side awakened by an encounter with Kin Shiotani‘s work. She broke her back by falling from a ladder and, as she recovered, decided to approach life with a new mission. She quit her job and moved to Los Angeles in 2014. In 2015, she published a book, Ice Cream Work.
Noa Yekutieli is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist best known for her intricate, hand-cut paper art. She’s based in both Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. Yekiteli’s mother is Japanese and her father, Israeli. She was born in California but raised in Israel. She moved from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles around 2016.
NOBUHO “NOBI” NAGASAWA
Nobuho “Nobi” Nagasawa is an artist who makes sculptures, earthworks, museum installations, and public art. She was born in Japan and raised there and in Europe. She earned her master’s degree from Hochschule der Künste. She was invited to CalArts in 1986. One of her best-known local pieces is Toyo Miyatake’s Camera, which commemorates another Japanese Angeleno artist. She also created Building Earth Dome (nicknamed “Nobi’s Tower”) on the campus of CalArts. She went on to teach at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2001, she moved to New York City.
Patrick Nagatani was an educator and photographer. He was born in Chicago on 19 August 1945, the eldest son of John Shuzo and Diane Yoshiye Nagatani. The Nagatanis moved to Los Angeles in 1955 and settled in the Crenshaw Seinan enclave. His passion for art was only awakened after he enrolled at California State University, Los Angeles. He earned an MFA from UCLA and went on to teach at Hamilton High School, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of New Mexico. He died at his home in Albuquerque on 27 October 2017.
Pawena Thimaporn is a Woodland Hills-based ceramics artist and clothing designer. She was born and raised in Thailand. After graduating from the ArtCenter College of Design, she worked as an art director at Nokia. After the office closed, she took a pottery class at XIEM Clay Center. She founded Pawena Studio in 2015.
PEARL C. HSIUNG
Pearl C. Hsiung is a multi-media and public artist based in Los Angeles. She was born in Taichung and educated in California. She earned her BA from UCLA in 1997 and began working in commercial fashion design. Dissatisfied, she changed direction, enrolled at Goldsmiths College, and got an in 2004. Her tile artwork High Prismatic, was installed at Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill Station in 2021.
Peter Yang is a photographer known, largely for his celebrity portraits. Yang was born in Texas. He took his first photo when he was seven years old but began shooting photographs in earnest for The Daily Texan. He was studying business at the time. After graduation he moved to New York City. He has since moved to Los Angeles.
Phung Huynh is a Silver Lake-based educator and artist. She was born in Vietnam to a Hoa mother and Cambodian refugee father. She’s well known for her portraits on iconic pink doughnut boxes used by many Cambodian American donut shops. Public transit riders will be familiar with her public art which adorn many stations. Huynh was a student at USC, earned a BFA from ArtCenter College of Design, and an MFA from New York University. She was a chair of the Public Art Commission for the city of South Pasadena and of the Prison Arts Collective Advisory Council. She’s currently an art professor at Los Angeles Valley College and on the board of directors for LA Más.
Pingping is a painter and clothing designer. She was born in China and, surrounded by artistic friends and family, began making art there as a child. She moved to Los Angeles when she was fifteen years old. She graduated from the ArtCenter College Of Design in 2013 with a degree in industrial design. She worked as a footwear designer at Nike before transitioning into handbag and clothing design. She creates her own wearable art at Pingping Clothing.
POP ANNEMARIE CHAN
Rafael Maniago is a Bellflower-based portrait artist. He was born in San Fernando, Pampanga. He earned a BFA in advertising from UE and a BFA in design and color from the ArtCenter College of Design. From 2000 to 2015, he was a member of the Pilipino American Artist Guild.
RAINA J. LEE
Riso Itano was a photographer. He was born on 4 September 1879. He wroked as a watchmaker in Sacramento from around 1908 until at least 1913. His wife, Tombara, emigrated to the US in 1916 and the couple moved to Los Angeles, where Itano found work at a watch shop in Little Tokyo. He was a charter member of the JCPC. He was active until the mid-1930s.
Rodolfo Samonte is a Burbank-based painter, photographer, and digital artist. He was born in Manila. He earned a BFA from UST. In 1976, he studied printmaking at the School of Visual Arts. He studied commercial lithography in Cleveland.
Roger Yanagita is an architect and designer but has also created public art. His Go For Broke Monument monument was installed in Little Tokyo in 1999. He got his BS in architecture from USC.
Rosten Martti Woo is a writer, educator, designer, and artist. Woo’s father, Sherman Woo, was also an artist and educator as well as a poet and computer programer. His mother is Julie rosten. He was raised in Seattle.Woo teaches art and design at the CalArts, Pomona College, and ArtCenter.
Ruth Aiko Asawa was a sculptor. She was born on 24 January 1926 in Norwalk. She was one of seven children born to Umakichi Asawa and his wife. She was interested in art from an early age and won first prize in a competition in 1939, for her artwork about what makes someone American. During World War II, her family (with the exception of her father) were incarcerated at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas. Her father had, by then, already been abducted and incarcerated at a concentration camp in New Mexico. Asawa attended Milwaukee State Teachers College with the intention of becoming an art teacher but was denied a degree from the school until 1998 on the basis of their ethnicity. From 1946 to 1949, she studied at Black Mountain College. There she met an architect, Albert Lanier. They married and had six children. She was the driving force behind the creation of the San Francisco School of the Arts, which was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in 2010. She moved to the Castro in 1960. She died on 5 August 2013.
Ryan E. Young is a commercial photographer based in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He began shooting photographs when he was about fourteen years old, documenting his and his friends’ skateboarding. He studied photography and art history courses at a community college before enrolling at ArtCenter College of Design.
S. Nakagawa was a photographer active in the 1920s and ’30s. His given name was transliterated as either Susumu or Satsuma. He joined the JCPC in 1927 and remained a member until 1939, at which time he may’ve returned to Japan. He exhibited widely from 1925 until 1937. He became an associate of the Royal Photographic Society in 1931 and a fellow in 1934.
Saehee Simmons is a costume designer, artist, and art instructor. She’s the sister of Jihae Simmons Meek (The Royal We, The Champagne Socialists, Neverever — the latter of which she did album artwork for). She studied German at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, earned a BA in fine and studio arts from CSULB, and a BA in costume deisgn from the London College of Fashion.
Saelee Oh is a multidisciplinary visual artist. She is the eldest of four sisters who also work in the creative field. She earned her BFA from ArtCenter College of Design in 2003. She has a dog named Midas, a cat named Sesame, and no children.
Sandra Low is a multidisciplinary artist. She received her BA at the UC Berkeley, and an MFA from USC. Low taught for over ten years at PCC and currently teaches at Long Beach City College and Rio Hondo College.
Saori Mitome is a costume designer. She was born in Atsugi. She studied fashion. After moving to Los Angeles, she enrolled at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. At the same time she started working ats a costume and wardrobe assistant which led to work as a costumer and custom clothing designer. She was also a member of Les Sewing Sisters.
Scarlet Penaloza is a Harvard Heights-based jewelry designer who markets her work as Hey Moon Designs. The name is derived from a song, “Hey Moon,” by John Maus.
SEIZO K. KATSU
Seizo K. Katsu was a photographer. Little else is known about him. He may have been a barber. He never joined the JCPC but had his art reproduced in several photographic journals in the late 1920s.
SHEENA ESPIRITU SOLIS
Sherise Lee is a channel visual artist. Lee also created the blog and shop, The Radder. She received her BFA from the Academy of Art University. After a stint in New York City, sh moved to Los Angeles.
Shino Charlson is an Altadena-based painter, gouache artist, illustrator, designer, and letterpress artist. She was born Shino Arihara in Japan. When she was fourteen, her family moved to Austin. Shino went to the ArtCenter College of Design for a degree in illustration and worked as a freelance illustrator for about thirteen years. Together with Ken Charlson, she founded the Pasadena-based letter-press print company, Fugu Fugu Press in 2008.
Sichong Xie is an interdisciplinary artist, She was born in Xi’an. In 2012, she got a BFA from the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. In 2014, she got a BFA from the Columbus College of Art & Design. In 2017, she obtained a post-MFA from Bath Spa University in 2017 and an MFA from CalArts.
Shigemi Izuo was a photographer. He was born on 14 January 1900 in Kauai. He emigrated to the US when he was eighteen. He adopted the given name “Frank.” He began photographing operas performed at Santa Monica’s Club Casa del Mar. He married a nurse, Chiyeko Chiba, and they had two children. He operated the S. Izuo-Toyo Studios before establishing his own, also in Little Tokyo. He was a charter member of JCPC but resigned in 1936. He was first incarcerated at Poston but was granted release in order to work on a farm in Wyoming. After World War II ended, he opened a studio in Denver with T. K. Shindo assisting him. Shindo took over when Izuo became sick with cancer. He died on 1 January 1946.
Shigemi Uyeda was a photographer. He was born into a family of ricer farmers in Hiroshima on 1 January 1902. He emigrated to the US in 1917. He worked as a farmer in the Central Valley before moving with his brothers first to Santa Monica and then, in 1921, to Norwalk. In 1926, the Uyeda brothers moved to Lancaster where each established an alfalfa farm. After his wife died, their child was sent to Japan. Uyeda re-married and had three more children. Uyeda began photographing in 1919 using a Korona View field camera with a Tessar lens. During World War II, he was incarcerated at Poston. His home was ransacked but his camera and photographs survived, hidden inside the ceiling. He retired to Westminster where he died on his birthday in 1980.
Shinkichi Tajiri was a painter, photographer, filmmaker, and sculptor. He was born in Watts on 7 December 1923. He was the fifth of seven children born to Fuyo Kikuta and Ryukichi Tajiri. His father died when he was fifteen. In 1940, Tajiri began studying sculpture. In 1942, Tajiri’s family were incarcerated at Poston while he and his brother Vincent fought in Europe with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. After he was wounded in Italy, he returned to the US and went to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946. In 1949 we went to study in Paris and in 1951 to Germany. His 1955 short experimental film, The Vipers, won a Golden Palm at Cannes. In 1956, he moved to the Netherlands where he ultimately settled in Baarlo. His fiberglass sculpture, Friendship Knot, was installed in front of Little Tokyo’s Weller Court in 1981. Tajiri died on 15 March 2009.
Shinsaku Izumi (泉 晋作) was a photographer. He was born in Japan in 1880. He joined the JCPC. Little is known about him but he died in 1941 with no heirs.
Soey “소희” Milk is a painter. She was born in Seoul and moved to California in 2000. She graduated from the ArtCenter College of Design in 2014 with a BFA. She lives “with a human, six chickens, and a Shiba Inu.”
SUSIE TO THAI
Susie Tố Thai is a “nature-liker, background paint & background design person for hire.” They earned an AA from Orange Coast College and a BFA in graphic design from CSULB. In 2016, they founded the Plein Air Super Hike People Watch Fun Club.
Taizo Kato was a photographer. He was born on 22 September 1887. He emigrated to the US in 1906. He owned The Korin in Little Tokyo, a camera shop and gallery that also sold ceramics and other art objects. He was popular with Hollywood, who often turned to him for celebrity portraits. He was also a member of the Shaku-do-sha, a group of artists, poets, photographers, and writers. He died suddenly on 4 January 1924.
Takuji Mukai was a photographer. He was born in Okayama into a farming family on 28 February 1899 He emigrated to San Francisco in 1914. He worked as an automobile salesman and gardener. He was a charter member of the JCPC. He married in 1931 and his wife had three daughters. The entire family was incarcerated at Rohwer during World War II. Most of his work was destroyed by an arsonist. He died of cancer on 17 November 1979.
TAMMY JEAN PARK
Tawny McCann (née Manguerra) is a Fullerton-based designer who makes hand-made products as Quiet Doing. She credits her interest in crafts to a sixth-grade science teacher who decorated homework with rubber stamps. Her husband, Casey McCann, taught her screen-printing. Tawny designs, screen-prints, and sews all of her products by hand.
Taro Yashima (八島 太郎) was an artist and children’s book author. He was born Atsushi Iwamatsu (岩松 淳) on 21 September 1908 in Nejime (now part of Minamiōsumi). He enrolled at Tokyo Fine Arts School but was expelled after three years there. He and his pregnant wife, Tomoe, were imprisoned for opposing the Empire of Japan’s militarism. They emigrated to New York City in 1939, leaving behind their son, Mako. Iwamatsu joined the US Army, using the pseudonym Taro Yashima. Mako rejoined his parents in 1949. Yashima began writing and illustrating children’s books in the early 1950s. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1954. Yashima returned to Nejime for a documentary entitled Taro Yashima’s Golden Village. He died on 30 June 1994.
Thinh Nguyen (Thịnh Nguyễn) is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural critic. They were born in Thôn Bảo An. They graduated from CGU in 2011.
Thinh Nguyen (Thịnh Nguyễn) is a pattern designer and illustrator. Nguyen graduated from CSUF with a BFA in illustration and a minor in philosophy. Nguyen subsequently enrolled at Otis.
THOMAS KORYU SHINDO
Thomas Koryu Shindo was a photographer. He was born on 24 November 1890 in Kobuchisawa (now part of Hokuto) to the town’s mayor. He emigrated to the US where he adopted the given name, Thomas. He worked in a tailor’s and a grocery store before being hired by Rafu Shimpo as the advertising director. Shindo joined the JCPC in 1928. During World War II, Sindo and his family were incarcerated at Poston. After his release, he worked for Shigemi Izuo in Denver. He returned to Los Angeles in 1954 and opened a studio in Boyle Heights. He died on 26 October 1974.
Tina Huang is a ceramicist who makes dinnerware and ceramics from recycled clay, with her husband Eric, as Ren•Vois. Huang was born in California and moved to New York City after earning a degree in fashion from FIDM. After ten years, she moved to Los Angeles and pivoted from fashion to pottery.
Tomishia Furuya was a photographer. He was born on 11 March 1882. He was a founding member of the JCPC. He worked in laundromats in Pico Heights and Pasadena. He died on 30 July 1929.
Tommy Kim is an animator, gouache artist, and an art director at Gaumont Animation. He graduated from the ArtCenter College of Design in 2014.
Toraji Mayeda was a photographer. He was born on 26 August 1875. He emigrated to San Francisco in 1904 and adopted the given name “Harry.” He was a charter member of the JCPC but dropped out after a year. He moved to Little Tokyo, where he worked as a photographer until his death from tuberculosis on 31 January 1935.
TOSHIO AOKI (1854-1912)
Toshio Aoki (青木年雄) was a painter. He was born in Yokohama in 1854. He emigrated to San Francisco in 1880 and found work as a commercial artist. He subsequently moved to Pasadena, where he established a studio and was often employed to decorate the interiors of Greene & Greene‘s Japanese-influenced homes. In 1910, he retired and moved to San Diego, where he died on 26 April 1912.
TOYO MIYATAKE (1895-1979)
Tōyō Miyatake (宮武東洋) was a Japanese photographer. He was born on 28 October 1895 in Kagawa. He moved to the US in 1909 and settled in Little Tokyo where he joined his father. In 1918, he enrolled in a four-month photography class, taught by H.K. Shigeta. In 1923, he bought the Paris Photo Studio and established his own Toyo Studio. During World War II, Miyatake was incarcerated at Manzanar, where he documented life in a concentration camp with a hidden camera. After the war, Miyatake and his wife returned to Little Tokyo before moving to Monterey Park in 1971. He died on 22 February 1979. Today, Toyo Miyatake Studio is located in San Gabriel.
TRAN T. KIM-TRANG
Tran T. Kim-Trang is a multi-media artist based in Los Angeles. Her works include video, new media, and installation. Much of her work is concerned with technology and human relationships with it. She was born in Saigon and moved to the US in 1975. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts design from the University of Iowa. In the past, she’s taught at UCI, UCSD, Otis, and CalArts. She currently is a professor at Scripps College.
TYRUS WONG (1910-2016)
Tyrus Wong (黃齊耀) was a painter, animator, calligrapher, muralist, ceramicist, storyboard artist, lithographer, and kite maker. He was born on 25 October 1910 in Taishan. His murals can be seen in Chinatown and he was the lead production illustrator on Disney’s 1942 film Bambi. He was the subject of the 2015 documentary film, Tyrus, by filmmaker Pamela Tom. Wong died on 30 December 2016.
Vics Magsaysay is a self-taught nature photographer, painter, sculptor, graphic and furniture designer, writer, and poet. He was born in Manila. He studied chemical and civil engineering in college but afterward pursued a life in the arts.
Victoria Fu is a visual artist who works in the field of digital video, analog film, and projection. She earned her MFA from CalArts and an MA from USC.. Fu also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Whitney Independent Study Program. In 2006, Fu co-founded ARTOFFICE wituh Julie Orser. Fu is currently an associate professor of the visual arts and co-director of film studies at USD.
Victoria Vu is a letterpress artist and founder of the stationery company, Paper & Type. Vu grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and her father had a print shop in Menlo Park. She moved to Los Angeles around 2002 and studied architecture at USC. She founded Paper & Type in 2008.
WAH MING CHANG (1917-2003)
Wah Ming Chang (鄭華明) was an artist, sculptor, and designer. He was born on 2 August 1917 in Honolulu. He began exhibiting watercolors at the age of seven. He was later responsible for the design of many costumes and props on the television series, Star Trek. He died on 22 December 2003.
Wendy Chin is a print designer, web designer, and illustrator who publishes as Sugarpusher. Currently based in Brooklyn, she used to live in the Arts District.
Wylog Fong was a painter — and perhaps the inventor of the velvet painting. He was born in 1894 in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The 1900 census recorded his name as “Lock Fong.” The 1910 census records his name as “Way Lock Fong” and his mother isn’t recorded alongside his father and many siblings. By 1920, he’s recorded as “Wy Lok Fong,” and he was living in Portland’s Chinatown as a landscape artist. He studied art at Portland Art Association‘s school. He began painting on velvet in the 1920s. He later moved to Los Angeles’s Chinatown.
Xu Darocha is an artist and instructor of Qigong and Chi Nei Tsang based in Mar Vista. She was born and raised in Shanghai by two astrophysicist parents. In China, she freelanced as a prop maker and muralist for films and television series. After earning a degree in fashion design, she moved to the US in 2001. She makes drawings, photographs, paintings, and sculptures.
Yoskay Yamamoto is a self-taught illustrator, painter, and sculptor. Yamamoto was born and raised in Toba. He came to the US when he was fifteen. After twenty years in California, he relocated to Phoenix.
Yuka Yasutomi is a graphic designer and fashion illustrator based in both Los Angeles and Japan. Yasutomi moved to Los Angeles to study at FIDM after working as a consultant for several years in Tokyo. In 2020, she launched YUKA’s ILLUSTRATION.
Yuki Sotoo is a clothing designer based in Chino Hills. Sotoo’s women’s clothing line is Yuki Buttons.
Yumi Sakugawa is a comic artist who was born in Orange and raised in Laguna Hills. She graduated from UCLA in 2007. She also edits a blog about wellness, Across the Yumiverse. She was nominated for an Ignatz Award in 2014 for her mini-comic, Never Forgets.
Yunhee Min is an artist. She was born in Seoul. In 1991, she earned a BFA from the ArtCenter College of Design. She later was a student at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf-Startseite. In 2008 she earned an MA from Harvard University. She has taught at UCR since 2013.
Yunice Kang was a photographer who found solace in plants after the death of her father. She founded Sanso (산소; literally “oxygen”) where she makes stoneware planters and pairs them with rare and exotic plants.
Zen Sekizawa is an activist, director, and photographer. She was born in Los Angeles to legendary punk godmother “Atomic Nancy” Sekizawa of the famed Atomic Café (about which she’s making a documentary). Zen earned her BFA in Photography from ArtCenter. Her book, You And I See Why. With Mario Correa, she’s one half of the design company, Mano Ya. As an activist, she’s a member of J-Town Action and Solidarity.
- Chinese American Eyes
- Chinese American Museum
- Center for Asian American Media
- FilAm ARTS
- Giant Robot Store and GR2 Gallery
- Japanese American National Museum
- Kearny Streets Workshop
- Tuesday Night Project
- USC Pacific Asia Museum
- Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association
- Visual Communications
“Making Waves: Japanese American Photography, 1920-1940” by various contributors (Japanese American National Museum)
Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970, by Gordon Chang, Mark Johnson, and Paul Karlstrom (Stanford General Books, 2008)