Showcasing the Arts
Continent to Commonwealth: Asian/Asian American Kentucky Art Traveling Exhibit

Continent to Commonwealth:

Asian/Asian American Kentucky Art

Traveling Exhibit

The Kentucky Arts Council, in partnership with Asia Institute-Crane House and the Kentucky Chinese American Association, invited Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Kentuckians to share their visual art. Dozens of artists answered the call, with ethnic identities including Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Vietnamese and Karen, an ethnic group connected with the land now known as Myanmar, formerly Burma. A panel of Asian and Asian American cultural specialists selected artworks to include in this exhibit, which they named Continent to Commonwealth.

The exhibit debuts during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, May 2023, and travels statewide through May 2024. The purpose is to share AAPI experiences in the commonwealth today, and recognize the artistic expressions that Asian individuals, families and communities contribute to Kentucky’s cultural landscape.

“As an Asian American, it is important for me to depict myself or other individuals who identify as Asian in my paintings as well, further pushing the notion that we belong to and are participating in our local communities while also retaining our greater Asian heritage and culture.”
-Eriko Whittaker, Jefferson County

Who are AAPI Kentuckians?

During the U.S. Census of 2020, 1.7 percent of Kentuckians identified as Asian alone. The total percentage of Kentuckians who identified as Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander, alone or in combination with another race/ethnicity was 2.4 percent. Kentucky’s total population is over 4.5 million, so that means that there are more than 108,000 Kentuckians with Asian and Pacific Islander identities.

"I find empowerment through being able to fully own, celebrate, and share my personal narrative through my art forms. Too often in today’s world, I find myself or my experiences becoming intertwined or overwhelmed with narratives and retellings that others choose for me. Through my art, I reclaim what is and always has been wholly mine.”
-Mahalia Xiaoqi, Jefferson County

The AAPI population includes a wealth of diversity, with so many languages, and national and regional identities. This art collection reflects some of the many connections between the world’s largest continent and our commonwealth. You are invited to explore the creativity of Asian Kentuckian artists of different ages, artistic backgrounds and cultures, and imagine how you connect with their works.

“I was the kid who mixed the crayons to get a more accurate portrayal of my skin tone. I still like to experiment with watercolor paint in creating different skin tones outside of the classic fair, medium, and dark. I want to focus on skin tones outside of what most Americans consider to be the ‘norm’ and I look for a beautiful and diverse range of skin tones to portray. My colors also tend to be on the more saturated side, even when I paint landscapes, because I believe that color is what makes our world interesting and fun.”
-Betsy Patel, Warren County

For more information, contact Mark Brown, arts council folk and traditional arts director, at or 502-892-3115.