On Saturday, we celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with our Community Day: Global Asia, a fabulous high-energy mix of traditional and contemporary music, dance, and artmaking.

We know that art builds empathy and prompts provocation as we are seeing in our recently opened exhibition Adama Delphine Fawundu: In the Spirit of Àṣẹ; the newly installed Seeing America: 18th & 19th Century; and last year’s Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision. I’m proud that the Museum creates space for all visitors to feel seen, welcomed, and open to engage with ancestral and contemporary narratives, as well as stories that have been under told in museums.

Now underway is an ambitious multi-year plan to transform our Arts of Global Asia galleries. With some 30,000 objects, our renowned collection includes artworks from Tibet, India, China, Korea, and Japan. These countries are home to half of the world’s population and their vast diaspora makes up our fastest growing communities locally. Dr. Atteqa Ali, the newest addition to our expanding curatorial team, is leading the transformation. Recent acquisitions will connect visitors to global Asia through relevant, relatable themes, rather than by borders. Early next year, look forward to encountering dragons from across cultures with artworks that upend Western notions of fire-breathing demons, in favor of honoring them as auspicious and divine beings. And how extra auspicious that 2024 rings in the Chinese year of the dragon!

As a sneak preview, here are two new artworks that raise important issues in today’s geopolitics – namely women’s rights and the everyday heroism of women in Iran. Trained in classical miniature portrait painting, contemporary Iranian-born British artist, Soheila Sokhavari, celebrates famed Iranian performers, who broke barriers in their time.

Soheila Sokhavari, The Lor Girl (portrait of Roohangiz Saminejad), 2022, Egg tempera on Parchment, 12.45 x 15.3 cm (4 7/8 x 6 1/8 in) 

Soheila Sokhanvari, Mahvash, 2021, Egg tempera on calf vellum, 16.27 x 10 cm (6 3/8 x 4 in) 

I want to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation to the AAPI community of artists, visitors, members, and donors for their immense contributions to this Museum and to the world moreover.

In gratitude,

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art