Hon Eui Chen, A Disquiet Landscape I, silk and wool yarns on linen, 28 x 38 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

This Must-See Art Exhibition in New York Celebrates AAPI Artists and Artisans

Meet a few of the talents whose work is making waves.

May 14, 2024

Curated by veteran shelter magazine editor, art advisor, and all-around design insider William Li, the new exhibition Eastern Standard: A Celebration of AAPI Art and Design brings together an impressive roster of emerging talents from across the Asian American and Pacific Islander creative community at Fort Street Studio in Manhattan. Featuring works by 18 artists and artisans within a space designed by Aamir Khandwala, the show aims to “challenge the usual Western-centric standards in the art world while highlighting how the artists incorporate traditional motifs and techniques with modern expressions and narratives,” says Li, whose art advisory and online sales gallery Armature Projects aims to break the barrier between collector and artist.

Taking place during AAPI Heritage Month, the exhibition also supports the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Design Alliance, with a portion of proceeds going toward the organization’s advocacy work for AAPI members of the home and design industry. “Visibility and opportunity are crucial,” explains Li. “The more enthusiasm there is for AAPI artists’ work, the more exposure and recognition they will receive.”

We spoke with Li to find out more about the artists behind Eastern Standard and how their practices speak to the continuing need for recognition and equitable platforms in the arts.

On view May 8 through June 20 at Fort Street Studio, 22 West 19th Street, New York

Daniel Um, A Far Away Place, oil and oil pastel on canvas, 48 x 36 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

Daniel Um

“What grabs me is how he layers each piece, leaving little hints of his journey and emotions, inviting us all to dive in and see what personal connections we can make,” says Li of painter Daniel Um. Born in South Korea now based in New York, Um’s lushly colorful paintings explore the feelings of loneliness and disorientation experienced in an unfamiliar place, inviting the viewers to find solace in the lushly colorful work and to invent their own stories as an extension of his. “I love how his work mixes real-life experiences with a kind of dreamy narrative that makes you feel like you’re walking through a personal yet mystical world,” Li adds.

Vincent Chong, Hay Fever, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

Vincent Chong

A trained calligrapher and seal carver, Vincent Chong explores the intersection of his experience in the contemporary Queer community with traditional art practice. His expressive works, like the intimate and quiet Hay Fever, promote compassion between conflicting cultures or identities, encouraging viewers to see themselves reflected in his own vulnerability. “His paintings employ expressive brushwork that he learned through calligraphy, depicting the softness and love that his community has taught him to hold for his own body and identity,” says Li.

Aamir Khandwala & Rachel Jensen, Love Mandala, paper, gouache, sumi ink, cotton thread, 48 x 48 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

Rachel Jensen and Aamir Khandwala

Korean-American artist Rachel Jensen collaborated with interior designer Aamir Khandwala to create “Love Mandala,” a multimedia installation that celebrates the 18 different Urdu words for love. Drawing from Khandwala’s background in calligraphy (he practices daily as a form of meditation) and Jensen’s long-standing interest the Japanese traditions of visible mending known as sashiko and boro (with a similar practice, pojagi, in Korean culture), the piece amplifies the written expressions of love with an intricate network of thousands of connective stitches.

Hon Eui Chen, In the Solitude of Soundless Things, silk and wool yarn on silk linen scrim, 30 x 28 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

Hon Eui Chen

Hon Eui Chen‘s detailed and exquisite embroideries of dreamlike landscapes are deeply influenced by questions of belonging, identity, and peace, drawing inspiration from her family’s migration from Cambodia, where she was born in a refugee camp, to Mississippi, where her mother worked as a seamstress. “From a young age, Chen was captivated by her mother’s textiles and sewing skills,” explains Li. “She now uses embroidery to reflect her immigrant experience and her deep yearning for a sense of home—a place of peace and belonging.”

Tin Nguyen, in time I suppose i can let this go too (somehow), oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

Tin Nguyen

Captivating palettes and ethereal landscapes permeate Tin Nguyen‘s impressionistic paintings, which explore individual and collective ideas of identity through the perceptions and emotions of everyday experience. “His canvases are rich with poetry and romance, yet they also convey a deep sense of vulnerability and intimacy,” says Li. “While the paintings are striking at first glance, spending more time with them reveals a transportive energy that deepens the experience.”

David Zheng, Every Time I Close My Eyes – New York, silver gelatin print on fiber-based baryta paper, 42 x 29.125 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

David Zheng

With their misty atmospheres and high-contrast values, David Zheng‘s painterly compositions are reminiscent of early Parisian noir photography, their already dark emotionality exaggerated by the use of silver gelatin paper. “He has one of the best eyes in photography that I’ve ever encountered,” Li enthuses. “His prints have a handcrafted feel that’s rare in today’s digitally dominated photography scene.”

Liu Kincheloe, Five Color Bone, oil on canvas, 54 x 44 in.

Courtesy of the artist / Armature Projects

Liu Kincheloe

A kaleidoscope of color and pattern make Liu Kincheloe‘s work both exhilarating to behold and deeply enigmatic, practically coming to life in the eye of the beholder. Influenced by her research in Taoism and Chinese medicine, “she is captivated by the associative relationships among colors, numbers, seasons, emotions, and organ/meridians, infusing these connections into the abstract and formal elements of the paintings with personal symbolic meaning,” says Li. Each painting explores the connections lost, gained, and cultivated through her discovery of cultural traditions and spiritual practice.