If American society is a melting pot, Asian-American artists may feel that they are the ingredient left forgotten in the fridge.
Several Asian-American artists spoke recently with Daily Circuit guest host Marianne Combs about the challenges they face within their communities, and the stories and ideas they wish they heard in the mainstream media.
The gathering included poet Wang Ping, photographer Pao Her, spoken word artists Bao Phi and Linda Her, and actors Randy Reyes and Kurt Kwan.
Many of them mentioned lingering media stereotypes of Asian Americans, which tend to lump them together despite the diversity of their cultural backgrounds — Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Hmong and Vietnamese.
Pao Her talked at the gathering about the tension between older and younger Hmong generations, and said she has struggled with her own parents' lack of appreciation for the arts. Her, who is gaining recognition for her work documenting her community, recently had a solo show open at Franklin Art Works in Minneapolis.
American culture continues to put people of different ethnic groups into their own stereotypical "boxes," Phi said.
The perception is not new. Combs wrote a blog post three years ago that addresses the point:
"The problem is that our portrayal of Asian-Americans is extremely narrow. There is no 'average Asian-American family' on TV. What Bill Cosby did for African-Americans (which, regardless of what you think of the show, was to put their lives center stage) has yet to be accomplished for Asian-Americans."