Work Title: Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women
Asian American Women Artists Association
46 color illustrations, 128 pages, Softcover $24.95
Reviewer: Naomi Millan
As a part of their mission to bring visibility to the works of Asian American women, the Asian American Women Artists Association offers a pan-Asian anthology which honors its forebears while reaching out to the next generation.
A companion piece to a juried exhibition which took place June through August of 2007 in San Francisco, the collection gathers works from sixty-four artists with roots in more than thirty-five countries, including India, Pakistan, Singapore, and Vietnam. The visual arts represented include sculpture, painting, and installation pieces, and are evenly interspersed between poems, essays, and short stories.
In addition, each artist offers a brief homage to her muse or muses, other Asian American women who have provided inspiration and encouragement. Fifty-five muses are named with metiers ranging from architects and writers, to actresses and political activists. The most mentioned muse is Maya Lin, the architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at twenty-one. Often the muses are credited with creating a sense that the artist's voice and identity as an Asian American woman is valid. Of her professor, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen recalls the revelatory moment when her teacher first pronounced her name in class: "She pronounced my name as a song, in proper sequence [...] I barely recognized the tones and rhythms, the poetry that belongs to me."
The pieces grapple with motifs such as multiple identity...