Madeline Leung Coleman is a senior editor at The Nation and a freelance writer based in New York. (November 2019)


Michael Jang’s American Portraits

Michael Jang: Self-Portrait, Financial District, San Francisco, 1973

For most of the twentieth century, the day-to-day lives of Asian Americans were barely depicted in mainstream art and media. While European immigrant groups like Italian Americans assimilated to become white—shaping their own representation along the way—and black Americans fought for civil rights and the control of their own narrative, Asian-American stories were left largely untold. Or perhaps they were simply unheard. I had never seen a really great photo of a family like mine until I saw the ones made by Michael Jang. Jang’s recent “rediscovery” has a lot to do with his talent, but it also has to do with a more hospitable cultural moment.