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$3,520 pledged of $6,000 goal
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By Asian American Arts Centre
$3,520 pledged of $6,000 goal
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About this project

Artist Yang Yi with firemen from Ladder 6 (Dragon Fighters!) in NYC.
Artist Yang Yi with firemen from Ladder 6 (Dragon Fighters!) in NYC.

Our Project:

“FIRST RESPONDERS”, a solo exhibition featuring the work of artist Yang Yi 杨亿, opened on September 10, 2016. It was mounted by Asian American Arts Centre in collaboration with Chinatown Soup in Lower Manhattan. This was a special exhibition AAAC was proud to have presented, a body of work that is both a commemoration and celebration of the American spirit. It is fitting that as Americans we should find an immigrant whose remarkable skills and devotion gives to us the fruits of his heart and his labor.

The bald eagle, a symbol of America's spirit, depicted aside first responders in "Race Against The Clock - Rescuing", one of the five paintings in Yang Yi's tribute masterpiece.
The bald eagle, a symbol of America's spirit, depicted aside first responders in "Race Against The Clock - Rescuing", one of the five paintings in Yang Yi's tribute masterpiece.

Yi’s pentaptych took five years to complete, with the portraits of all 343 faces of the first responders who were killed at the World Trade Center 15 years ago. Asian American Arts Centre welcomes the opportunity to share his work with all Americans, New Yorkers, visitors to the city, and the Asian American community.

Yang Yi, 59, came to the United States from China in 1995 where he soon made a living painting portraits in Central Park. Meeting daily those who posed for him, he got to know New Yorkers through our faces. Following the 9/11 terror attacks, many people asked Yang Yi to make a portrait of their loved ones from the photos that remained. In 2010, Yi saw a mural on the side of a Flushing firehouse near his apartment. That inspired him. These were his heroes. He realized photos of the firemen’s faces were not enough. He could paint them and enable us to see as deeply as he.

Despite his consummate skills, Yang found that much more time would be needed than he thought. His domestic life suffered. He became the single father of his two boys and still found time to continue painting. Working out of his small apartment in Queens, raising his family, Yang kept to his goal for five years to complete the five canvases.

To watch an exclusive interview with artist Yang Yi, recorded by AAAC's own Weigang Song, please subscribe and check out our YouTube Channel here.

Here are press articles that have been written about Yang Yi's work:

"Sorrow in Hearts - Salute To Our Heroes" by Yang Yi.
"Sorrow in Hearts - Salute To Our Heroes" by Yang Yi.

Our Project Mission and Vision:

Our mission for this project is to share the paintings with you of the 343 firemen who endure as the heroes of 9/11. And also to share this timely story of Yang Yi, his story as an immigrant to the USA. Yang Yi endured his own personal hardships to complete his goal – paintings of who he found to be heroic – real heroes. His story reflects today's immigrants, particularly the face of this new generation of Chinese American immigrants. Yang Yi’s special gift to America renews the dream for us all.

This exhibition, with your support, may continue. Current plans are for the show on an expanded scale to travel next year to Sumei Arts Center’s firehouse, a larger venue, in Newark, NJ if funding is forthcoming.

"United We Stand - Rising From Ashes" by Yang Yi.
"United We Stand - Rising From Ashes" by Yang Yi.

About Asian American Arts Centre:

As a local community arts non profit founded in 1974, exhibiting and archiving Asian American artists since 1983, Asian American Arts Centre held its first contemporary public art exhibition in 1988 sought to find art with the potential to transform the image of Manhattan's Chinatown and Chinese Americans for mainstream Americans. Yang Yi’s exhibition, in revealing himself, a Chinese immigrant to the USA, has this potential.

During four decades of activity and through to today, a picture of Asian American art continues to emerge from the Art Centre’s work; the roles of family, community, identity, tradition, folk sources, spirituality, the marketplace and politics of art and innovative personalities have all been essential in shaping the past and current cultural presence of Asians in the US in the 21st century.

With very little time to prepare and few supporters, the exhibition managed to open on September 10th 2016 with the support of Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation - CPLDC. Now, the goal is to keep these paintings before the public so that during next year’s anniversary the exhibition will find a wider audience. The long-term goal is a permanent home/exhibition site, potentially in New York's Chinatown, so these paintings can continue to be accessible to the public in Lower Manhattan. If funds exceed our expectations, these can go to start a fund so these paintings can be acquired and displayed permanently.

AAAC Staff, Michelle Estevez of Chinatown Soup, Journalist Rong Xiaoping, and artist Yang Yi
AAAC Staff, Michelle Estevez of Chinatown Soup, Journalist Rong Xiaoping, and artist Yang Yi

When was the last time you met a real hero? It can be a meaningful experience. To affirm in your own mind who and why a person is such a person - a hero. After November 8th elections, do you still believe in what this country has stood for? Does it change how you regard these 343 firemen? Have you thought about the significance of an immigrant - Yang Yi – in having devoted himself to these portraits?

What do you affirm and support, what do you believe? Who are your real heroes? Not just fictional ones. 

Americans both left and right can see and decide if the portraits of First Responders as painted by Yang Yi means something. Yang Yi has continued to focus on the portraits of firemen. These will be exhibited next year. 

As a country we may be divided. The 343 may point us to a place of unity. Remember, it is an immigrant who takes time to think through this, and has gifted these paintings to us.

What makes this project most unique? "A portrait painting does not do the same thing as a photograph exhibition of the first responders - it has the capacity to revive a way of seeing, to draw from memory and imagination a different way of feeling. See the quotes from Ben Hom and Jay Jonas. Such feelings may not have happened if these were not painted by hand." - Robert Lee, Executive Director and Curator, AAAC

Ladder 6 (Chinatown Dragon Fighters), "Believe in Miracles"
Ladder 6 (Chinatown Dragon Fighters), "Believe in Miracles"
Ladder 6 (Chinatown Dragon Fighters)
Ladder 6 (Chinatown Dragon Fighters)

About Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center:

Sumei Art Center
Sumei Art Center

Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center is a nonprofit organization, located in downtown Newark, whose mission is to provide a space for artists of diverse backgrounds and disciplines to interact through the arts and humanities with the local, statewide and regional community utilizing performance, exhibition, and education, to create an exchange of cultural ideas and practices. Sumei's Prospect Street Firestation is a community based and supported gallery dedicated to exhibiting a variety of artists, from emerging to established, including local, regional and international artists. It is a place for people to come together to talk, see films, performances and lectures – a place to learn from both professionals and peers, to be creative & to get inspired, and a place where opportunities for new ideas and new ventures can be developed and supported.

Sumei Art Center
Sumei Art Center

Here is our Kickstarter budget breakdown:

Our targets for this budget are the following--

  • Preparation for the First Responders exhibition to expand and travel to Sumei Art Centre’s Prospect Street Firestation Gallery
  • Research to find a permanent exhibition site for these artworks
  • The publicity and support of the public’s knowledge of these artworks, including outreach to firefighters who remember 
  • Operating costs for the display of Yang Yi’s paintings in Chinatown Soup’s exhibition space 
"9/11 The Dark Moment - Buildings Collapsing" by Yang Yi
"9/11 The Dark Moment - Buildings Collapsing" by Yang Yi

 

"Race Against the Clock - Rescuing" by Yang Yi
"Race Against the Clock - Rescuing" by Yang Yi

 

"Healing and Stride Forward - God Bless America" by Yang Yi
"Healing and Stride Forward - God Bless America" by Yang Yi

Rewards

AAAC's Limited Edition Exhibition Poster:

This poster, designed by AAAC's own Hal Laessig, is a visual representation of the commemorative exhibition mounted by AAAC in Manhattan's Chinatown during the month of September 2016. It depicts all five Yang Yi artworks, each measuring 5' feet x 7' feet and showing great detail and care for each individual person and object. As a thank you for your support, AAAC will be sending you a version of this poster.

Poster - Front View
Poster - Front View

 

Poster - Back View
Poster - Back View

Limited Edition Yang Yi Art Print:

These are some of the faces of 20th century famous figures, crafted with Chinese dry-ink techniques. Yang Yi's portraiture series displays his consummate skill as a portrait artist. Pledge $300 and a limited edition art print of your favorite historical figure can be yours!

Claude Monet
Claude Monet

 

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

 

Risks and challenges

The goal of this project is to assure that the next exhibition of Yang Yi can be realized. The budget for this campaign will go a long way to plan and support this upcoming exhibition as well as underwrite the initial effort to bring Yang Yi to the public. However, it will take more funds to make this next exhibition stronger - either through a catalogue or more media exposure. This will entail fundraising efforts over the next several months.

The challenges of putting on an exhibition as an arts organization that has over 36 years of experience is always new and different, but we are likely to have the knowledge and experience to tackle these as they come. Sumei Arts Center is also an experienced veteran as a nonprofit arts organization.

Finally, this is also our first Kickstarter campaign, so we are aware of the challenges that may come with distributing rewards in a timely manner. We will be working around the clock to ensure that we rightfully thank all of our campaign supporters. The items that are being produced as a part of this campaign, such as the limited edition Jacquard Art Print, are of professional quality and will hopefully serve as further marketing materials to enrich all of our efforts.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A Heartfelt Thank You from AAAC Staff

    As a non-profit organization, we sincerely appreciate all of your support as we unfold on this adventure. You will receive a personal thank you message from us at AAAC, along with exclusive updates on this project.

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    Commemorative Exhibition Poster

    As a thank you from all of us at AAAC, you will receive a commemorative 8.5" x 14" exhibition poster depicting the five paintings by Yang Yi along with the listed names of the 343 firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Exhibition Poster + AAAC Brochure

    Get to know a little bit more about AAAC and what we do! As a thank you from all of us at AAAC, you will receive a commemorative 11" x 17" exhibition poster depicting the five paintings by Yang Yi along with the listed names of the 343 firefighters who gave their all on 9/11. We will also send you a brochure with all of AAAC's offerings.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Poster + AAAC Brochure + Catalogue

    It's official: You and AAAC are BBFs! As a thank you from all of us at AAAC, you will receive a commemorative 11" x 17" exhibition poster depicting the five paintings by Yang Yi along with the listed names of the 343 firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11. We will also send you a colorful brochure detailing all of AAAC's offerings on Asian American culture, a 54-page catalogue with five essays & four artists statements highlighting Asian American art and the process of archiving seventy years of this historic development.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Yang Yi Jacquard Art Print

    You can proudly display one of Yang Yi’s "First Responders" paintings on your wall. The artist has created a special limited edition 30” x 22” Giclée pigment print of each of the five paintings only available with your pledge at this time. Choose one of the five paintings imprinted on translucent Jacquard Lawn Cotton fabric to own and treasure. With your pledge you will receive the commemorative 11" x 17" exhibition poster depicting the five paintings by Yang Yi along with the listed names of the 343 firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11. Also, you will receive a colorful brochure detailing all of AAAC's program offerings on Asian American culture, and a 54-page catalogue with five essays highlighting Asian American art and the process of archiving seventy years of this historic development.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Limited Edition Yang Yi Art Print

    Yang Yi, a consummately skilled portrait artist, is delighted to offer while the editions last, a framed, approx. 8" x 11" limited-edition art print from his Portraiture collection! Each portrait depicts a famous figure from the 20th century, such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, and is created using Chinese dry-ink techniques. You will receive a commemorative 11" x 17" exhibition poster depicting the five paintings by Yang Yi along with the listed names of the 343 firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11. Also, you will receive a colorful brochure detailing all of AAAC's program offerings on Asian American culture, and a 54-page catalogue with five essays highlighting Asian American art and the process of archiving seventy years of this historic development.

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    Limited Edition Yang Yi Art Mural

    Yang Yi has created a special limited edition Giclée pigment print mural only available with your pledge at this time. The five paintings are imprinted on translucent Jacquard Lawn Cotton fabric. The mural is 2 1/2' high x 8' wide, with each Firefighter's face clearly identifiable. The artist is delighted to offer this exclusive mural while the edition lasts. With your pledge you will also receive the commemorative 11" x 17" exhibition poster depicting the five paintings by Yang Yi along with the listed names of the 343 firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11, the colorful brochure detailing all of AAAC's program offerings on Asian American culture, and our 54-page catalogue with five essays highlighting Asian American art and the process of archiving seventy years of this historic development.

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Funding period

- (60 days)