A wide variety of items from Rice University’s Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) are now highlighted in a new public exhibition at the Julia Ideson Gallery at the Houston Public Library downtown, shining a light on the countless contributions to the city that have been made by its Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
At a kickoff reception for the new exhibition — “Our Vibrant AAPI Community: Selections from the Houston Asian American Archive” — hosted by Rice’s Office of Multicultural Community Relations Jan. 19, members of the Houston community were welcomed to view the carefully curated assortment of historical documents, videos, artworks and other items that comprise an intriguing cross section of the archive’s hundreds of items in its collection.
A joint project between the Chao Center for Asian Studies in the School of Humanities and Fondren Library’s Woodson Research Center, the HAAA has grown since its 2010 inception to include approximately 450 recorded interviews and oral histories from members of Houston’s AAPI community in addition to many other items now on display at exhibition, including campaign posters from trailblazing political candidates, archival footage from community events and numerous other artifacts that show how pivotal Houstonians of AAPI heritage have been to propelling the city and region forward over the years.
“We want to write the history of Texas as inclusive of all different types of people,” said Anne Chao ’05 ’09, HAAA program manager and adjunct lecturer in the School of Humanities.
The exhibition will be open to the public through June 3 and will host several free events in the weeks ahead, including a Chinese classical music concert, Asian dance performances and a Chinese poetry reading.
Chao thanked numerous members of the Houston and Rice communities for their instrumental work in maintaining the archive and making this new exhibition possible, including Houston Public Library Executive Director Rhea Brown Lawson, Woodson Research Center Head of Special Collections Amanda Focke, Chao Center and Department of Transnational Asian Studies Director Lisa Balabanlilar, and School of Humanities Dean and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History Kathleen Canning. She also thanked the numerous Rice student interns who have tirelessly worked to create and maintain the archive over the years as well as Rice President Reginald DesRoches for his support.
“The materials displayed represent a sampling of the richness of AAPI experiences, and offer a panoramic view of Houston’s AAPI world,” DesRoches said. He emphasized that Rice as an institution “is grateful to have such an outstanding Asian community that is contributing to the betterment of the world.”
“Our Vibrant AAPI Community: Selections from the Houston Asian American Archive” will be open to the public at the Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Gallery through June 3, 2023. For more information on upcoming programming and events, visit houstonlibrary.org/blog/Our-Vibrant-AAPI-Community.