Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

In June 1978, Rep. Frank Horton proposed that a week to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May be Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. This was passed by the House and Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978. During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990 when Congress expanded the observance to a month. Then in 1992, Congress annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.


Carberry Gallery Exhibition 'Kinetic Peripatetic' by Donnabelle Casis

In observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: The first week in May the Amy H. Carberry Gallery was to view  Donnabelle Casis' work. The gallery was open to the public with a reception for the artist on Saturday, April 30.

Time and space can be two important elements to a visual artist who wants to experiment and create innovative work. Donnabelle Casis, whose artwork was first installed at the Carberry Gallery in March 2020 only to close after two days due to the pandemic, is a Filipina-American artist living and working in Western Massachusetts. Throughout the month of April, she has been creating new 3D mobile artwork in the space that will be on view on April 30 and May 2-6, 2022.

Trained as a painter, she expanded on her mastery of two-dimensional artwork to include large 3-dimensional artwork. Her current paintings explore the relationship of personal identity to visual systems of signification in both ancient and modern cultures. She draws from various sources such as Filipino tribal tattoos and textiles, facial recognition software, cosmology, and the philosophy of metaphysics, among others.

“I am fascinated by visual perception and how meaning is derived from what we see. I look for hidden geometries that may connect discrete perspectives to form a greater whole,” -Donnabelle Casis

Filipino tribal imagery is tied to storytelling, marks of accomplishment, and societal roles. Facial recognition software maps physical characteristics which determine one’s visual identity.