Dn’R: Erasing Asian American Midcentury Design


This arcticle is a survey of three Asian Americans architects and designers whose creations are famous icons of amererican pop culture.

  1. Minoru Yamasaki Was the designer of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project and more famously the twin towers. Though he created many other buildings these two were destroyed. Pruitt-Igoe was demolished after it became a home to crime and vandalism and the twin towers… well you know. Both of which were blamed on imagines design failures of Minoru Yamasaki.
  2. Larry Shinoda designer of one of the most famous Influential American sport cars the first corvette stingwray. His contributions are minimized in corvette’s history books and many car people diminish him further.
  3. Helen Liu Fong designer of Pam’s Diner in LA as well as the diner shown in the movie pulp fiction. Two pieces of Americana drastically impacting the American imagination. She is often uncredited for he work.

The main point of the arcticle is that there are a lot of designs that hold a place permantly in American nostalgia and culture whose creators are ignored and assumed to be the spontaneous products of white American when in fact each has a creator many of whom are people of color.

D&R: Chinese Exclusion and the Statue of Liberty

I wanted to take this opportunity to share a story from my research that I couldn’t find a place for in my project.

apparently the passing of the Chinese exclusion act and the assembling of the statue of liberty were not all that far apart in time. In fact very soon after the Chinese exclusion act was passed, New York began fund raising to build the pedestal on which lady liberty stands.

Many Chinese Americans were asked to contribute funding to this statue that represented the inclusive vision of America. and they were not happy about it.

This is an excerpt from the book “Yellow Peril: an archive of anti Asian fear”

DnR: The Great Pinoy Boxing Era

Though a bit outdated in feel. This is a really interesting and short documentary. In addition too historical commentary, it features interviews with many of the boxers who participated, and many Pinoys who remember the fights. Also many interviews with Peter Bacho and some people who were characters in dark blue suit.

When the us armt brought boxing to the Philippines, the locals quickly took up the sport and mixed it with their own martial arts in ways that are still with boxing today.

This new style gave the phillipino boxers an advantage but also the only phillipno boxers (at first) who came to America were the very best in the phillipines. So Pinoy boxers really seemed super powered at the time. Giving hope to a lot of Pinoy workers who felt beaten down by racism and oppression.

D&R Play Mountain: a radio documentary about the work of Isamu Noguchi

Play Mountain


Just listened to this 99% invisible episode about the life and work of sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

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Noguchi was born in America to a white mother and Japanese father he spent some of his childhood in Japan but was bullied because of his blue eyes. He returned to America to live in New York as a teenager and begun his work as a sculptor with dreams of designing abstract playgrounds intended to stir the imagination of children.

Image result for play mountain noguchiAlmost none of his playgrounds were designed in his lifetime but his ideas have stretched farther than he could imagine in the world of architecture.

During World War 2 Noguchi teamed up with United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier to design the Poston concentration camp. The idea was to make the camp a utopian village that would bring the internees together for an idillic life while they awaited the end of the war.

Noguchi himself went to the Poston camp (even though he was not required to) to supervise the construction of his vision.  But when he arrived he found himself imprisoned with none of his designs being followed.

(letter to artist Man Ray

When he got out he continued to design playgrounds that no one would build.

He is most famous for the Noguchi coffee table which appears in many movies.

Image result for noguchi coffee table

Just before he died he combined many of his playground designs into a giant park that now exists in Sapporo, Japan as Moerenuma Park. He never lived to see it built.

Image result for moerenuma park

Image result for moerenuma park

D&R: Jason Shiga Talks About Asian Representation in American Comics

Insight into the Meaning of the Universe: Catching Up with Jason Shiga

Jason Shiga is an amazing cartoonist known for his work on ambitious puzzle and math based comics, including the mind bending chose your own adventure comic “Meanwhile” and the hilarious conceptual epic “Demon.”

Most of this interview was about his residency in Angouleme France, and his upcoming even more ambitious comic “The Box.” but the interview is capped off by some interesting thoughts about Asian American representation in comics:

I have a friend who is Asian and he wants to be a screenwriter. So he’s working on a screenplay and I asked him to tell me about it, and he said it was based on his own childhood and his own family but he had to make them white. And I was like why don’t you make them Asian? And he said, no one is going to buy that. That’s crazy to me. I feel like even in comics there are a lot of minority comics that want mainstream success, they want to somewhere down the line be able to option their comic book into some big budget Hollywood movie. Even with everything working for us, it’s an auteur’s medium, we get to write, draw and control every aspect of a story, and even then, maybe half of the Asian people working in comics still will default to a white protagonist.


It’s interesting to me that this this would be a problem even in the domain of alternative comics where, as Jason says, there is almost no corporate accountability.

D&R: MariNaomi

Image result for turning japanese marinaomi

I finished Marimaomi’s comic “Turning Japanese”

It’s a funny and anxious memoir about trying to learn about Japanese language and culture when her mother refused to share any of it with her growing up.

It’s heartbreaking to think about not being about to speak the same language as your grandparents.

It also shares some interesting experiences of the culture shock MariNaomi experiences in her journey to reconnect with her heritage.