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 Change.org, Colorlines, Colorofchange.org, 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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Staff Update

Staff Update: 2012 Smithsonian Mentoring Program

Participants of the 2012 Smithsonian Mentoring Program with Secretary Clough. Click for more photos.

Krista Aniel joined the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) in June 2009, as the Program Assistant (Outreach), shortly after graduating from Georgetown University with her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree emphasis in Social and Public Policy. She organizes public programs and special events by coordinating activities with appropriate divisions throughout Smithsonian museums  and is a buyer for APAC with a full range of procurement tasks.  In addition, Krista serves on more than a dozen Smithsonian inter-unit councils and  strategic planning committees and is the unit internship coordinator.  Krista also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from Brigham Young University.

As a Mentee in the 2012 Smithsonian Mentoring Program, Krista was competitively selected to receive nine months of leadership and professional development training with twenty-nine other peers from across the Institution. Krista describes her experience in the following words:

The 2012 Smithsonian Mentoring Program has greatly enriched my professional development by teaching me how to build a successful career path. I enjoyed interacting with my mentor Joan Boudreau, Museum Curator of the Graphic Arts Collection at the National Museum of American History, and networking with experienced professionals on a monthly basis. I had the unique opportunity to attend formal trainings, behind-the-scenes tours of museums and the National Zoo, and leadership development meetings that featured Secretary Wayne Clough and other senior staff. I am grateful that APAC supported me through this extraordinary experience and hope that the mentoring program will continue to inspire and develop future leaders.

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Indian American, Staff Update

Beyond Bollywood Q&A with Masum Momaya

Click to download the PDF of this issue.

The following text is from the September 2012 issue of India Review, a publication of the Embassy of India, Washington, D.C.


In September 2013, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program will open Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C. Beyond Bollywood will celebrate the history, art, and culture of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans, and showcase the vitality of the Indian diaspora.

Dr. Masum Momaya succeeded Dr. Pawan Dhingra as the new curator of the Indian American Heritage Project in June 2012. She was earlier a curator at the International Museum of Women and engaged in curatorial work for the Indo-American Heritage Museum. She is also a recipient of a National Science Foundation Research Fellowship.

In a candid conversation with India Review (IR), Dr. Momaya talks about Beyond Bollywood and the future plans of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program.


IR: What can people expect to see when they visit Beyond Bollywood?

MM: Something amazing, I hope. The exhibition will highlight the defining vibrancy of the Indian-American community: sights, colors, energy, tastes, and diversity. While much of the exhibition will feature iconic images, music, art and artifacts to tell stories about innovation and achievement, it will also recognize our struggles as a community and our many civic and political contributions to the United States; this is an aspect of American history that is not well known by the general public.

IR: Will the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program organize events around the exhibition?

MM: Absolutely. Beyond Bollywood is the starting point for a larger conversation about the Indian American experience. From 2013-2014, we are planning a wide variety of public programs — an Inside the Actors Studio conversation with an Indian American actor, a film screening, dance and music performances, a book reading, a demonstration and tasting with an Indian American chef, a hip hop/spoken word evening, a comedy night, and hopefully much more.

IR: Will Beyond Bollywood travel or do you have to come to Washington, D.C.?

MM: After a one-year tenure at the Smithsonian, Beyond Bollywood will travel to venues across the country for 3-5 years. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) will organize the tour of the traveling version of the exhibition. In addition to the more than 7 million visitors who will see the exhibition at the Smithsonian, we estimate that an additional 100,000 people will be able to experience Beyond Bollywood when it tours across the nation. The exhibition will also have an interactive website.

IR: How can our readers be a part of this effort?

MM: We are still raising funds for the exhibition and looking for supporters. And we are looking for photographs! We are crowdsourcing the story of Indian Americans and asking Indian Americans across the country to share their story. We recently launched a campaign to collect family photos. I hope people will be willing to be part of this effort at collective storytelling and upload their photos to our Facebook page or send them to IndianAmerican@si.edu. Photos should include the submitter’s name or family’s name, the year that the photo was taken, and the occasion.

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Staff Update

Introducing Amy “Emiko” Hever, Senior Advancement Officer

Amy “Emiko” Hever

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program welcomes Amy “Emiko” Hever to the team as the new Senior Advancement Officer.   Ms. Hever will lead the Program’s fundraising efforts during a national fundraising campaign.  She will report to the Director, Dr. Konrad Ng.  Ms. Hever has over 13 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, having served in the areas of arts and culture, health and human services and scientific research.  She brings particular knowledge and experience in the areas of philanthropy, museum management, marketing and communications, and finance.  Ms. Hever’s prior positions include:  Executive Director of the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum & Learning Center in Boynton Beach, FL; Director of Advancement at the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, FL; and Director of Development for the Cathedral Foundation in Newark, NJ.  Ms. Hever spent part of her elementary and middle school years in Tokyo, and holds a B.A. in History and East Asian Studies from Binghamton University.

A message from Amy:

“It is a distinct honor to be here in Washington, D.C. and join the Smithsonian Institution.  The Asian Pacific American Program has an important mission worthy of tremendous support.  I am excited by the opportunity to join such a talented team, dedicated to putting their ‘passion into action’ in the most innovative ways.  The Program is such an important part of the Smithsonian experience.  I am proud to play a role in realizing the work of the Asian Pacific American Program.”

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Staff Update

Introducing Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, Initiative Coordinator

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program is delighted to welcome Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis as APAP Initiative Coordinator.  Lawrence is editor-in-chief of the Asian American Literary Review, a PhD student and instructor at the University of Maryland-College Park, and longtime volunteer for the program.

A message from Lawrence:

“I am thrilled and honored to join the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program.  In my work as an editor, writer, student, and scholar, I’ve looked to draw lines between communities, to connect the arts and academia, students and community organizers, artists and activists, scholars and writers‹to open new channels of exchange and collaboration. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of the arts and cultural history, always intertwined, to bring meaning and direction to our collective lives.

As Initiative Coordinator I will be overseeing the development of a
nationally touring exhibition about Asian Pacific American cultural
history.  The first of its kind, and a project many years in the making,
the exhibition is a community project.  It takes a village to raise an
exhibition, one might say, and I owe a great debt of gratitude to the many
wonderful folks who have served and continue to serve as advisors and
contributors.  The exhibition is also a community work in the sense that
it tells our story, an expansive, inclusive story.  Hopefully it is an
opportunity, a lasting resource and departure point for storytelling,
historiography, and community building.  We greatly look forward to
sending it out into the world in 2013.”

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HomeSpun, Staff Update

Curator Masum Momaya Joins the Indian American Heritage Project

Masum Momaya

The Asian Pacific American Program is delighted to welcome Dr. Masum Momaya as Curator for the Smithsonian Indian American Heritage ProjectDr. Momaya brings a wealth of experience as a researcher, educator, curator, writer and advocate to this role, beginning more than 20 years ago as a teenager organizing youth service projects in the Indian American community.

Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Dr. Momaya was a curator at the International Museum of Women and engaged in curatorial work for the Indo-American Heritage Museum.  Her professional work, which includes exhibitions, publications, podcasts, lectures, and workshops, uses multimedia technologies and artistic representations to document the experiences of minority communities around the world.

Dr. Momaya earned a doctorate in Human Development and a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University, a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Feminist Studies from Stanford University, and pursued advance studies in the University of Oxford’s Development Studies Program.  She is a graduate of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and a recipient of a National Science Foundation Research Fellowship.

Dr. Momaya will be continuing the work of the former curator, Dr. Pawan Dhingra, who accepted the position of Chairman and Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology at Tufts University.  Dr. Dhingra will continue to be part of the Indian American Heritage Project in his new role as Senior Advisor.

Message from Dr. Momaya:

I am honored to join the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and continue the groundbreaking work in presenting the history, struggles and contributions of the Indian American community.  Dating back to 1790, the experiences of Indian Americans in the United States are as multifaceted and vibrant as the story of our nation itself, and this is what we will share with visitors when the exhibition opens at the Smithsonian and then travels to museums, libraries, community centers and other public spaces throughout the country.

Ultimately, the reach and impact of HomeSpun depends on the contributions and energy of community members. If you know of any objects or recordings you consider significant to the Indian American story, please let me know. And, please consider making a tax-deductable donation to HomeSpun. This initiative depends greatly on resources from individuals!

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HomeSpun, Indian American, Staff Update

Pawan Dhingra’s Latest Book

Life Behind the Lobby by Pawan Dhingra

By Aaron Sayama, Summer 2012 Intern

Pawan Dhingra is the founding curator for the HomeSpun: Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project and is the Chair of the Department of Sociology at Tufts University. His latest book, Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream, examines the relationship between the Indian American motelier and the idea of American exceptionalism.

Drawing from first-hand field research, Dr. Dhingra fuses Indian American motelier narratives with various theoretical perspectives to create a balanced and full portrayal of Indian Americans in the motel industry. Dr. Dhingra deftly explores the different means Indian Americans create professional appearances to sustain the growth of their local businesses.

The book concludes with Dr. Dhingra calling for the reassessment of three main threads uncovered while conducting research: the narratives of success, immigrant adaptation, and regionalism. These threads of research follow traditional and received logic about how and why immigrants succeed within America: the utilization of ethnic networks, the notion that attainment—of education, of income—leads to adaptation, and the role regions play in constructing the lives of immigrants. Indeed, Dhingra’s insightful call for a more nuanced approach to how “immigrants construct meanings about and navigate their environment” leaves open the door to more scholarship that complicates the traditional, vertical trajectory of the entrepreneurial immigrant.

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