Inspired by the permanent collection of the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States, No Ocean Between Us features approximately 70 important works by Latin American and Caribbean artists of Asian heritage. The exhibition demonstrates how this work emerged from cross-directional global dialogues between the artists, their Asian cultural heritages, their Latin American or Caribbean identities, and their interaction with major artistic movements.

Wilfredo Lam, Retrato, 1982, lithograph
Wilfredo Lam, Retrato, 1982, lithograph. © OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas. Courtesy of the IDB Art Collection.

Included in the exhibition are paintings, works on paper, sculptures, installations and mixed media works by artists from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Showcasing the work of influential artists such as Wifredo Lam, Manabu Mabe, and Tomie Ohtake, among many others, No Ocean Between Us demonstrates their vital but often overlooked contributions to the creative landscape.

Soeki Irodikromo, Untitled, 1986, oil on canvas
Soeki Irodikromo, Untitled, 1986, oil on canvas. © OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Collection. Gift of the Government of Suriname.

Asian migration to the Americas resulted from labor shortages stemming from the United Kingdom’s abolition of its slave trade in 1807. The British, Spanish, and Dutch colonizers in the Caribbean, along with newly independent countries such as Peru and Brazil, brought workers from India, China, Indonesia, and Japan to meet the rising demand for labor. While most of these workers ultimately returned to their countries of origin, many settled in their new homelands, setting in motion the rich and complex histories of assimilation and exchange on view in this singular exhibition.

M P Alladin, Las Palmas, 1973, acrylic on canvas
M. P. Alladin, Las Palmas (The Palms), 1973, acrylic on canvas. © OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Collection.

Related Event Recordings

Where possible we recorded events offered in conjunction with the exhibition, and we’ve embedded them below.

Kathleen López: Asian Imprints in Latin American and Caribbean History and Culture

Asian Imprints Presentation Image Credits

- Divali Meal:

- Corneta China (Santiago de Cuba):,_Santiago_de_Cub…

- Upside Down Latin America:

- Manila Galleon (1565-1815) Route and Goods (Chocolate Jar, Fan, Silk):……

- Chinese Indentured Laborers Shipboard Mutiny:
Edgar Holden, “A Chapter on the Coolie Trade,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume 29 (June 1864), pp. 1-10

- Contract of Indenture (1869): Collection Kathleen López

- Excerpt from Testimony of Zheng Amou and 89 Others (1874):
China. Zongli geguo shiwu yamen. Report of the Commission Sent by China to Ascertain the Condition of Chinese Coolies in Cuba, 1874 (Shanghai: Imperial Maritime Customs Press, 1876. Reprint, Taipei: Ch’eng Wen, 1970).

- Residents of Mollendo, Peru (1906): Library of Congress

- Post-Indenture Chinese Laborers on Soledad Estate (Cienfuegos, Cuba): Collection Massachusetts Historical Society

- Chinese Association (f. 1884) and Pastor Pelayo’s House (Cienfuegos, Cuba): Photos by Kathleen López

- Santiago Pelayo and Blas Pelayo (Grandsons of Chinese Indentured Laborer): Photos by Kathleen López

- Chinese Cuban Institutions:
Cemetery and Chi Tack Tong (Havana): Photos by Kathleen López
Man Sen Yat Po (1953): UCLA Library, International Digital Ephemera Project

- Kwong Wah Po: Photo by Kathleen López

- East Indian Indentured Laborers at Spring Garden Buildings (Jamaica 1880):
The National Archives CO137/497/29/ folio 519…

- Recruitment Poster for Japanese Immigration to Brazil: “Let’s go to South America with families”:…

- Japanese Immigrants Disembarking in Brazil (1937):…

- Japanese Store in Sao Paulo (1940s):,_S%C3%A3o_Pau…

- “El destierro de los chinos” (Exile of the Chinese) (Anonymous, Mexico 1910):
Robert Chao Romero, The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010), 90-91

- Cartoon of Mexican Women in China: Jose Angel Espinoza, El Problema Chino en Mexico (1931)

- Japanese during World War II (United States War Relocation Authority, Manzanar, California, 1942):
Library of Congress

- El Asia (Havana 1951): Collection Carmen Kouw, Courtesy Cátedra de Estudios sobre la Inmigración y la Presencia China en Cuba (Universidad de la Habana)

- Café and Bodega: Collection Caridad Wong Lui, Courtesy Mitzi Espinosa Luis

- Chinese Bodega: Collection Carmen Kouw, Courtesy Cátedra de Estudios sobre la Inmigración y la Presencia China en Cuba (Universidad de la Habana)

- Chifa Asia (Peru):

- Restaurant La Caridad 78 (New York City)

- Antonio Kotaro Hayata on Colonia-Go: (October 13, 2021)

- Easton Lee (1931-2021): National Library of Jamaica

- Lion Dance Society: Collection Min Chih Tang

- Fermin Huie and Carnival: Courtesy Cátedra de Estudios sobre la Inmigración y la Presencia China en Cuba (Universidad de la Habana)

- Chinese Cuban Opera Singers (1940s and Today): Photo by Kathleen López

- Chung Wah School (Colegio Chung Wah): Collection Caridad Amarán, Courtesy Mitzi Espinosa Luis

- Lui Villagers, Lui Fan and Cuban Daughters: Collection Violeta Luis
Violeta and Lourdes Luis, Lui Fan’s Chinese Daughters: Photos by Kathleen López

- Mitzi Espinosa Luis Family Reunion (Xinhui 2009): Photo by Kathleen López

- Paula Williams Madison, Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem (Amistad, 2015)

- Gaiutra Bahadur, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013)

- Chinese Cuban Veteran (1907) and Captain José Bu Tak: Courtesy Pedro Eng Herrera

- Pedro Eng Herrera and Mitzi Espinosa Luis (2007): Photo by Kathleen López

- Cover of The Pagoda Magazine (Kingston 1957): FIU Libraries Special Collections

- Banner for Asians in the Americas Symposium (Rutgers University 2014): Photos courtesy of Maria Lau

- Dekasegi and Samba (Asakusa, Japan):

- Chinese Cuban Youth (2017): Photo by Kathleen López

We would like to thank the following departments and programs, who graciously organized or co-sponsored events and programs related to No Ocean Between Us: American Studies; Axinn Center for the Humanities; Carol Rifelj Faculty Lecture Series; Committee on the Arts; Comparative Literature; East Asian Studies; Greenberg-Starr Department of Chinese Language & Literature; Latin American Studies; Luso-Hispanic Studies; Phi Beta Kappa.

AMA | Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States, Washington, DC.

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