This month, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center opened A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America, a digital art exhibition of 200 photographs and films selected from over 2000 submissions, crowdsourced from 500 photographers across the country and around the world, and all shot on a single day in May 2014.
That day, May 10th, was chosen because it is the 145th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railway, a historic feat of national engineering that relied heavily on Chinese and Irish labor who many felt were erased from the narrative. The iconic 1869 photograph of the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah, excludes the images of the Chinese and Asian railway workers.
“With this exhibit, we wanted to demonstrate the complexity and diversity of a community that often gets lumped together in a monolithic image," said Adriel Luis, Curator of Digital and Emerging Media at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. "Particularly because our migration patterns are so vast, it was really a call to make visible Asian Pacific American experiences that are usually overlooked, such as in the Pacific Islands and the rural United States.”
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