Staff Update

Introducing Adriel Luis, Curator of Digital and Emerging Media

Adriel Luis

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) is excited to welcome Adriel Luis to the team as Curator of Digital and Emerging Media. Launching the first position of its kind at the Smithsonian, Luis will lead a campaign to establish APAC as a “third space” in the museum world – engaging new audiences through online exhibitions, pop-up museums, handheld galleries, and digitally-enhanced museum exhibitions. Luis will also renew APAC’s online presence, exploring innovative approaches to artistic and historical storytelling using social media, emergent technology, and re-imagined online experiences.

Luis is recognized internationally in a variety of cultural pockets, including music, journalism, education, technology, and the arts. For the past decade, he was an artist and creative director at iLL-Literacy – a digital funk band that injects imagination into student leadership experiences at colleges and universities. Specializing in building coalitions among underrepresented student communities, iLL-Literacy has performed at over 200 campuses and venues throughout the United States and Europe, and has been featured at SXSW Music Conference, Bumbershoot Music Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the National Asian American Theater Festival, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. iLL-Literacy’s debut album, iB4the1.1 (2010), was recognized widely in music circuits for its early adoption of open-source values in its production, distribution, and content. In 2004, Luis was awarded San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion. A film adaptation of his poem “Slip of the Tongue” was selected by the Media that Matters Film Festival (2006) and screened at over 75 international film festivals and awarded an Emmy (2006).

Outside of performance and literary arts, Luis has led a number of notable organizations and companies through digital revitalization campaigns, including the Asian American International Film Festival, Shanghai-based artist agency NeochaEDGE, and Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. In 2010, he was selected as a fellow at the New Organizing Institute’s New Media Bootcamp, and has since been a contributing voice through both writing and media development at, Colorlines,, Citizen Engagement Lab, and Hyphen Magazine.

Luis’ expertise in creating, digitizing, and organizing art has afforded him a plethora of unique curatorial experiences. In 2011, he co-curated HEADLINES!: A Modern Take on Andy Warhol’s Electric Newspaper for the National Gallery of Art. In 2012, he was the new media director for OneBeat, a U.S. State Department project that engaged over 30 international musicians through collaborative residencies, workshops, and concerts. Luis spent early 2013 living in Beijing and traveling throughout Asia, studying cultural and artistic trends in the Asian diaspora.

Message from Luis:

“What excites me about digital and emerging media at Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is the vast terrain that exists and that’s yet to exist moving forward.  For the APA community, the concept of emerging media is not just a medium, but rather a vessel that has evolved and been evolved by the perseverance to interact. Technology – digital and cultural – has always been fostered in our community through the need for instruments and methods that were vital for getting by in a land where they didn’t yet exist. For us, innovation has never been a model – it’s a survival tactic.”


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