Fall '20: Faces in the Pandemic

The Houston Asian American Archive is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition “Faces in the Pandemic” to happen at the Information Commons, Fondren Library, from August 17, 2020 to November 15, 2020.

>> To visit the exhibit virtually, visit our YouTube channel here.

>> To visit the exhibit in person at the Fondren Library, please make an appointment here and complete the health screening questionnaire.

2020 is a year unlike any other. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the global racial strife sparked by the murder of George Floyd ruptured our sense of normalcy. “Faces in the Pandemic” is a response to the surreal and dystopian nature of our existence right now. Created with the participation of interviewees and supporters of the Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA), the exhibition represents a portrayal of the experiences and perspectives of Asian Americans in the times of COVID-19 and harkens back to the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Jim Crow dehumanizing of people of color.

The exhibition consists of two parts: a community photo mural and an art show with artists who are mainly Houston based. The mural spans across ten wall panels and is made of photos from 120 volunteers from all walks of life. Stages of emotions are reflected in their faces: grief, anger, bliss, and contentment. Their gaze seems to question their place in this country that discriminates by skin color, as they remind us of our shared humanity. Chang Liu, in her aesthetics of codes and algorithm, created “Random Walker - Dripping” that echoes with the surreal and transient time we are in. Placed next to the mural, it is an invitation for viewers to situate themselves within this time capsule alongside the volunteers who contributed to the mural.  Both Antonius-Tin Bui and Jennifer Ling Datchuk confront myths about Asians and use traditional art forms from their culture to tell their diasporic experiences. For Bui, paper is also a metaphor for history. The derogatory term, “Yellow Peril,” makes a comeback in Bui’s work as it references the current administration’s scapegoating of immigrants of Asian descent and all “Perils of People of Color,” while expressing Asian American’s solidarity with “Black Lives Matter”. Datchuk, a ceramics artist who was trained in Jingdezhen, China’s most heralded source of porcelain, playfully mimicked two typical Chinese dolls while calling out the Model Minority Myth. Sherry Tseng Hill (’80, ’82) in her recreation of a historical timeline featuring key Asian American social justice activists, depicts community mobilization across the globe against structural inequality, systemic racism and the legacies of colonial empires. Victor Ancheta examines our time in the coronavirus crisis against the transient nature of life with memento mori (“remember you must die”), a fate no one can escape. Anthony Pabillano triggers a discourse on colorism by focusing on the various skin tones of a young girl. Together with Brandon Tho Harris, Irene Kwan, Wen-Hui Shen, and Yinxi Jushi, the group takes a strong stand against racial inequality and social injustice.

Featured artists:

-           Antonius-Tin Bui (they/them; b. 1992, New York, US)

-           Anthony Pabillano (b. 1989, Philippines)

-           Brandon Tho Harris (b. 1995, Texas, US)

-           Chang Liu (b. 1987, China)

-           Irene Kwan (b. 1986, Texas, US)

-           Jennifer Ling Datchuk (b. 1980, Ohio, US)

-           Sherry Tseng Hill (b. 1957, Taiwan)

-           Victor Ancheta (b. 1987, Philippines)

-           Wen-Hui Shen (b. 1961, Taiwan)

-           Yinxi Jushi (Buddhist Layman Yinxi 印溪居士; b. 1960, China)

The exhibition was organized by Ann Shi, Associate Curator, under the guidance of Dr. Anne S. Chao, Program Manager of Houston Asian American Archive; funded by the Chao Center for Asian Studies; assisted by Sarah Kong (Sophomore, Sid Richardson) and Helen Pu (Junior, Baker).

Special thanks to Amanda Focke, Head of Special Collections, Fondren Library, and to Frank (’78) and Cindy Liu for their donation of equipment.

Social Media: @RiceHAAA, #HoustonAsianAmericanArchive, #FacesInThePandemic

Hours & Admission: Visits are by appointment only, which can be made here.

For library hours, please check library.rice.edu.

COVID-19 related questions needs to be answered during the reservation; masks are required during the visit.

Art Exhibition

Sherry Tseng Hill

Forgive but not Forget, 2020

Acrylic on Canvas, 48 x 18 in.

Courtesy of the artist


Antonius-Tin Bui

ReModel Minority series, 2019

Laser and Hand-cut Paper

Courtesy of the Artist 

Antonius-Tin Bui

End Your Silence (Self-Immolation), 2020

Zippo lighters with customized engraving

Victor Ancheta

Escape, 2020

Resin, paper, plastic, twine

Courtesy of the Artist

Victor Ancheta

The Good Hour, 2020

Tin metal, clock, LED neon, paint, gesso

Courtesy of the Artist

Brandon Tho Harris

Not Your Virus, 2020

Mixed Media: Traditional Vietnamese Garments (Áo Dài), Conical Hats (Nón Lá), and Gold Thread

Courtesy of the artist

Irene Kwan

We Are Not A Threat, 2020

Graphic design, photography

Courtesy of the Artist

Anthony Pabillano

Anne Chao, 2020

Hand-cut, layered paper

Courtesy of the Artist

Anthony Pabillano

We’ll Get Through This Together, 2020

Masks in Shades of Brown, 100% cotton print fabric

Courtesy of the Artist

Anthony Pabillano

Progression of a Portrait, 2018

Hand-cut, layered paper

Courtesy of the Artist


Wen-Hui Shen

Nooses in the Dark

Sleepless Nights


Mixed media

Courtesy of the Artist

Jennifer Ling Datchuk

Model Minority, 2019

Found ceramics, gold luster, Porcelain (exhibition copy)

Courtesy of the Artist

Yinxi Jushi (or Layman Buddhist Yinxi, 印溪居士)

Dr. Li Wenliang, 2020

Ink on xuan paper 

Courtesy of the Artist

Chang Liu

Random Walker - Dripping, 2016

Flickering Existence series

Interactive video installation, Edition of 5+1AP.

©Liu Chang, courtesy Fou Gallery.

Community Participation

Faces in the Pandemic, 2020

Photo collage in 10 Panels, 48" x 69" each.

Courtesy of all 120 Volunteers

Rice University Student Participation

Ashley Jifan Tsang (Kinesiology, Senior '21, Duncan College, Rice University)

Caution (Ashley and Austin Tsang), 2020
Mixed-Media (sharpie, color pencil, acrylic and caution tapes)
Courtesy of the Artist


by Alicia Leong

taught by Professor Lan Li in HISTORIES OF SENSATION 2020


Community Efforts in the Pandemic

“1,000 Cranes for Hope” Origami Project

Organized by Asia Society Texas Center

Participation by Sherry Cheng & Alice Jiang (mother & daughter)

Hand-Crafted Face masks

A fundraising effort for Houston Food Bank

by Nghi Nguyen, NEEWIN Co.