I Am An American: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging

Photograph of a sign reading “I Am An American” that was placed on the Wanto Co. store in Oakland, California, on December 8, 1941. Photo by Dorthea Lange, March 1942. Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-23602.

August 26, 2022 – January 8, 2023

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Oregon Historical Society
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Across the United States and certainly within Oregon, Asian Americans have historically been subjected to xenophobia and discrimination. Government policies and court decisions have in some cases even added to the bias and bigotry aimed at this group. Many Asian Americans say they have lived with a sense of cultural erasure. Currently, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans are on the rise. 

To draw attention to these issues, The Immigrant Story, in collaboration with eminent Portland photographer Jim Lommasson and conceptual artist Roberta Wong, presents a powerful new exhibition, I Am An American: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging. The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, and installation art, all designed to focus on the experiences of Asian Americans.

The exhibition’s title, “I Am An American,” intentionally brings attention to the eighty years since Japanese Americans were targeted by the U.S. government during World War II. The slogan became a rallying cry for all Asian Americans, who even today are still trying to combat xenophobia, hateful rhetoric, and the resulting violence. The featured art speaks to the resilience of Asian Americans in the face of exclusion and hatred as well as the many dimensions of Asian American identity.