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“Looking for Asian America shows real people engaged in the full range of human activity. This is no small accomplishment for the photographer or his subjects. For Asian Americans it is extraordinary to be merely ordinary. To others, even if not to themselves, Asian Americans appear to be contradictions of identity—a Chinese-Yankee is a knockoff.” —Frank H. Wu, from the Foreword
In search of contemporary Asian America, celebrated photographer Wing Young Huie—the only member of his family not born in China—traveled with his wife Tara through nearly forty states to explore and document the funny, touching, and sometimes strange intersection of Asian American and American cultures. Looking for Asian America illustrates their rich and surprising journey across the United States.
Through Huie’s eyes, keenly aware of his own Midwestern roots and perspective, we witness such images as a Vietnamese Elvis, Miss Congeniality on her cell phone in San Francisco’s Chinatown, a Hmong street sign in rural North Carolina, a meditating Falun Gong protestor in Washington, D.C., a bubble tea Valley Girl, and a Chinese theme park in Orlando. Huie’s camera captures ABCs (American-born Chinese), FOAs (Fresh Off the Airplane), and a self-described “redneck” Chinese restaurant owner near the Okefenokee Swamp. Taken together the photographs reveal a complex portrait of the U.S. cultural landscape, and their dignified elegance invites a closer, deeper look.
Accompanied by the personal reflections of both Wing and Tara Huie, the nearly one hundred spectacular photos tell a story that both mirrors and contradicts stereotypes of Asian Americans, ultimately questioning what it means to be ethnic and American in the twenty-first century.
Wing Young Huie has received widespread acclaim for his works, including Lake Street USA,documenting the cultural landscape of his native Minnesota. He is a recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship and two-time recipient of the McKnight Photography Fellowship. He lives in Minneapolis.
Frank H. Wu is dean of Wayne State University Law School and the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White.
Anita Gonzalez teaches in the Master of Liberal Studies Program at the University of Minnesota.