Korean American Artist Collective (KAAC)

Korean American Artist Collective (KAAC)

National, focused on sociopolitical engagement through arts & culture, serving Korean American artists and the pan-AAPI community

About the Organization:

The Korean American Artist Collective (KAAC) is a group of artists dedicated to supporting, building, and amplifying works that are politically, socially, and culturally engaged, and rooted in the Korean American experience. We do this by creating spaces of connection, collaborating, exhibiting, and distributing works in all media. Our work lies at the intersection of Korean American identity, community, and justice.

organizational budget

$0-$50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

The Issue:

Although the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the Asian American population has been one of the fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups in the US, Asian Americans make up a fraction of what we see in the art world. Less than 9% of the works in the collections of all major US museums belong to Asian artists. This lack of representation directly translates to and perpetuates the cycle of limited exposure, access to resources, institutional support, and professional development opportunities. As a result, AAPI artists face significant challenges in developing and fully pursuing their art practices and accessing the support needed to thrive. This leads to a scarcity mindset among the AAPI artist community that fosters competition, distrust, and insularity rather than one of community, growth, and solidarity.

This lack of AAPI representation not only limits opportunities for artists, but also perpetuates a eurocentric notion of aesthetics and culture as disseminated and canonized in institutions like museums, libraries, and universities. We see a real need for more AAPI  representation in institutional art spaces, as well as more spaces that allow for the transmission and sharing of culturally specific art forms, art histories, and aesthetics. Artists need spaces to explore and preserve their cultural heritage, to challenge the status quo, and to decolonize art institutions.

Furthermore, the model minority myth invisibilizes the diverse experience of Korean Americans and turns it into a single narrative, which not only pits minority groups against each other but does real harm to the most marginalized among us who do not fit the stereotype and therefore benefit from its effects. The myth perpetuates the notion that artists who are Korean American do not need support, connection, or care, and erases the many real experiences among Korean Americans with diverse intersectional identities. There are very few spaces where Korean/AAPI artists can explore the full breadth and range of their identity as diasporic people and as artists, where they can fully express their diversity of experiences, perspectives, art forms and practices, aesthetics, gender identities, immigration stories, family and racial histories, socio-economic situations, body types, and so on.

The Solution:

To achieve our mission, we create spaces of connection, foster collaborations, curate exhibitions, and distribute works across all forms of media. Through these initiatives, we establish platforms for artists to be seen, heard, and celebrated, bridging the gap between art, Korean American identity, community, and justice. We do this work in the following ways:

  • Resource Sharing and Education: We organize and host free online and in-person art workshops for the public, facilitated by community artists and members. Our Instagram account connects and highlights Korean American artists, amplifies art events, and shares relevant resources with our audience. 
  • Individual and Collaborative Projects: We facilitate an Artist Project Grant program to provide unrestricted microgrants for Korean American artists to support new and in-progress research and creative projects. We organize and produce collaborative projects, both within the collective and in collaboration with outside members and groups, which allow us to explore themes based on our shared Korean heritage, and seek ways to build solidarity both within our community and with other groups. This year, we are organizing our first all-member group exhibit – a show centered on the Korean concept of “han,” in collaboration with the AAPI organization Asian American Justice and Innovation Lab (AAJIL). We are planning another collaborative exhibit with a Filipino artist collective in 2024, and hope to organize more projects with other artist and/or community groups.
  • Community Building and Networking: KAAC provides spaces of connection via events like panels, artist salons, artist talks, and other networking opportunities. We facilitate an active Discord group that fosters dialogue, connection, resource sharing, and informal mentoring among our members. We host an online storefront and participate in art fairs; these platforms provide professional development experience, exposure, income opportunities, and spaces to connect with the public.
  • Mutual Aid: We organize fundraisers in solidarity with movements and communities such as Black Lives Matter, voting rights, and AAPI organizations working with marginalized groups. We maintain an internal community care fund for collective members who need emergency support or small amounts of funding, to aid in their practice and overall well-being.

Our Programs Include:

To achieve our mission, we create spaces of connection, foster collaborations, curate exhibitions, and distribute works across all forms of media. Through these initiatives, we establish platforms for artists to be seen, heard, and celebrated, bridging the gap between art, Korean American identity, community, and justice. We do this work in the following ways:

  • Resource Sharing and Education: We organize and host free online and in-person art workshops for the public, facilitated by community artists and members. Our Instagram account connects and highlights Korean American artists, amplifies art events, and shares relevant resources with our audience. 
  • Individual and Collaborative Projects: We facilitate an Artist Project Grant program to provide unrestricted microgrants for Korean American artists to support new and in-progress research and creative projects. We organize and produce collaborative projects, both within the collective and in collaboration with outside members and groups, which allow us to explore themes based on our shared Korean heritage, and seek ways to build solidarity both within our community and with other groups. This year, we are organizing our first all-member group exhibit – a show centered on the Korean concept of “han,” in collaboration with the AAPI organization Asian American Justice and Innovation Lab (AAJIL). We are planning another collaborative exhibit with a Filipino artist collective in 2024, and hope to organize more projects with other artist and/or community groups.
  • Community Building and Networking: KAAC provides spaces of connection via events like panels, artist salons, artist talks, and other networking opportunities. We facilitate an active Discord group that fosters dialogue, connection, resource sharing, and informal mentoring among our members. We host an online storefront and participate in art fairs; these platforms provide professional development experience, exposure, income opportunities, and spaces to connect with the public.
  • Mutual Aid: We organize fundraisers in solidarity with movements and communities such as Black Lives Matter, voting rights, and AAPI organizations working with marginalized groups. We maintain an internal community care fund for collective members who need emergency support or small amounts of funding, to aid in their practice and overall well-being. 

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