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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month


Tue, May 3rd 2022 09:55 am

New exhibit celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at New York State Capitol

√ Learn more about the exhibit here and see photos here

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday issued a proclamation celebrating May 2022 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Hochul also announced the appointment of David Chen to the New York State Court System Second Department Judicial Screening Committee. In addition, the governor announced the opening of “NYS Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Isamu Noguchi & Kenzo Okada,” a new exhibition focusing on two Empire State Plaza Art Collection artists. The exhibit is located in the Governor's Reception Room on the second floor of the New York State Capitol and will run through Friday, May 27.

"New York state is proud to join in the national celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month," Hochul said. "New York is home to over 1.4 million members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and this month we honor all of their contributions to our state and nation. Here in New York, our diversity is our strength, and we will always stand with our AAPI neighbors to combat Asian hate and work to ensure they feel safe on our streets, in our subways and in our homes."

Chen has been appointed to the New York State Court System Second Department Judicial Screening Committee. He currently serves as deputy county attorney at the Office of the Westchester County Attorney. In this role, Chen is responsible for all civil appeals, the drafting of legislation, and offers legal advice to the county executive and all county departments. Chen began his career in the U.S. Army where he obtained the rank of captain and served his nation for six years from 2000-06. Upon leaving the army, after having received his undergraduate degree at West Point, Chen obtained a law degree from Boston College Law School. After obtaining his JD, Chen clerked for the Hon. Dora L. Irizarry, a Federal District Court judge, before joining McDermott Will & Emery. Chen joined his current office in 2017 and has been lauded for the work performed.

The Governor's Judicial Screening Committees are established by executive order to evaluate the qualifications of candidates and make recommendations to the governor for appointment to judgeships other than those of the Court of Appeals.

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Exhibit

Hochul’s team said, “The works of Isamu Noguchi and Kenzo Okada combine their Eastern stylistic influences, sensitivity and motifs with Western materials and culture, resulting in what is now regarded as some of the most prolific and critically acclaimed art of the century. Original works by both artists can be viewed on the concourse level of the Empire State Plaza.”

•Isamu Noguchi (1904-88): During his 60-year career, Noguchi designed sculptures, playgrounds, lighting, furniture, theater sets, memorials and gardens. Inspired by his Japanese American heritage, Noguchi's art transcended cultural barriers and established him as one of the most prolific sculptors of the 20th century.

Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904 to Yonejiro Noguchi, a Japanese poet, and Léonie Gilmour, an American writer and editor, but he spent most of his childhood in Japan. Noguchi moved to New York City in 1922 to study medicine at Columbia University, but left shortly after to become a full-time sculptor. Throughout his career, he traveled to Europe and Japan and incorporated Western and Eastern styles into his sculpture that were inspired by his travels.

•Kenzo Okada (1902-82): Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan in 1902, Okada developed an early interest in Western art, particularly when he studied Western painting at the Tokyo Fine Arts University. After brief schooling in Paris, Okada returned to Japan to teach. During World War II, the artist moved further into the countryside, where he painted every day. The experience deepened his sensitivity to nature and influenced his use of a limited color palette and flattened organic forms. In 1948, he returned to Tokyo to exhibit his art publicly for the first time.

Continually drawn to the West and the birth of the postwar abstract expressionist art movement, Okada moved to New York in 1950. Okada's paintings from this time continued to reveal subtle changes through the use of imagery constructed with delicate tones of color within the composition. Described as "floating detachment," this approach to his work reflects Okada's Buddhist values.

The Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month exhibit is free and open to the public from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Find more information about the exhibit and visiting the New York State Capitol here. To see photos of the exhibit, see here.

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette M. Moy said, "Each May, we celebrate the historical and cultural contributions that people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have made in New York and the United States. This year's Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month exhibit in the State Capitol shines a spotlight on two artists from the Empire State Plaza Art Collection whose work was influenced by their East Asian heritage. Isamu Noguchi and Kenzo Okada contributed to New York City becoming the center of the art world in the decades following World War II, and we are fortunate that visitors can see their work on display at the plaza throughout the year."

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