Empowering Asian American Artists: A Closer Look at A4, New York’s Creative Collective

Asian Americans are often stereotyped as being more interested in math, science, technology, and engineering fields, and when combined with familial pressure to join STEM fields or the medical field it leads to Asian Americans being overrepresented in STEM careers and underrepresented in arts and humanities (Poon, USAFacts). Asian Americans who are interested in working in the arts may feel discouraged from pursuing their dream careers, but there are organizations that are dedicated to advancing the representation of Asian Americans working in arts-based careers.  

One such organization is the New York City-based professional organization Asian American Arts Alliance, also known as A4. A4 is a collective of Asian American professionals working in the arts who have come together to develop a professional network of support. Their goal is developing community amongst Asian American artists, sharing resources, and promoting and uplifting Asian Americans in the arts. Their programs and services include regular professional development workshops, an art residency opportunity in collaboration with The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), artist grants, fellowships for thespians and dancers, and much more!  

There are also many examples of successful Asian Americans in the field of arts and entertainment! Some examples include:

  • BD Wong – Broadway, film, and television actor and Tony Award winner known for his roles in Law and Order: SVU, the Jurassic Park franchise, M. Butterfly on Broadway, and as the voice of Li Shang in Mulan.  
  • Constance Wu – Television and film actress and activist known for her roles in Crazy Rich Asians, Fresh Off the Boat, Hustlers, and Velma.  
  • Roger Shimomura – Painter and arts professor known for combining American pop culture imagery with traditional Asian art tropes to provoke discussions on Asian American identity and experiences.  
  • Michelle Zauner – Korean-American singer and author known for being the frontwoman of indie pop band Japanese Breakfast, as well her memoir Crying in H Mart.  
  • Dave Halili – Asian American and Pacific Islander graphic artist known for creating album and merchandise art for musicians such as Ice-T, No Doubt, Stone Temple Pilots, Gwen Stefani, and more.  
By Avery Caya
Avery Caya Graduate Assistant, CLAS/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (They/Them/Theirs)