Poon (Andersen), Irene 1941-

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POON (ANDERSEN), Irene 1941-

PERSONAL:

Born 1941, in San Francisco, CA; married Stanley Andersen (an English professor). Education:

San Francisco State College, B.A. (art), 1964, M.A. (photography), 1967.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Art Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Photographer, educator, and author. Art Department, San Francisco State University, slide curator, 1965—; photographer. Exhibitions: Photographs have been displayed at Barrington Center for the Arts at Gordon College, Wenham, MA, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Oakland, CA, University of New Mexico, University of California-Davis, and E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA.

MEMBER:

Chinese Historical Society of America.

WRITINGS:

Leading the Way: Asian-American Artists of the Older Generation, Gordon College (Wenham, MA), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS:

Irene Poon was born in 1941 to first-generation Chinese immigrants in San Francisco's famed Chinatown. This community provided the thematic material for much of her later work. In 1995 she co-curated an exhibition at San Francisco State University titled "With New Eyes: Toward an Asian-American Art History in the West." The success of that show encouraged Poon to document these aging artists before they were gone. Ultimately an exhibit was created at the Barrington Center for the Arts at Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts, and a book, Leading the Way: Asian-American Artists of the Older Generation, followed.

Leading the Way features twenty-five pioneering Asian-American artists who worked from 1930 to 1970. Poon includes biographical sketches of each artist as well as her own photographs of them. All of these artists overcame cultural, social, and political obstacles to succeed as artists. Lucia S. Chen of Library Journal noted that "This book attempts to retrieve and capture an aspect of the American art scene that has traditionally been ignored by mainstream art historians." Praising Poon's photographs, Choice reviewer L. G. Kavaljian observed that "a full-page black-and-white portrait of each [artist], taken by the author, sensitively presents them intelligently located in settings that communicate their subjects." Among the gems Poon discovered while working on the book were artists Tyrus Wong, responsible for the paintings that inspired the Disney animated classics Bambi and Fantasia, as well as the Academy Award-winning special-effects artist Wah Ming Chang, whose credits include The King and I, Star Trek, and perhaps most surprisingly, the Pillsbury Doughboy advertising icon.

When asked by Roxana Botea in an interview posted on the Arizona State University Web site what she hoped to tell the world through her photography and what her message was, Poon responded that "I hope to convey what I see and feel at a particular moment in my life. My message is to be a human being and observe…believe and pursue your own vision."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Choice, October, 2002, L. G. Kavaljian, review of Leading the Way, p. 270.

Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Lucia S. Chen, review of Leading the Way: Asian-American Artists of the Older Generation, p. 86.

ONLINE

Arizona State University Web site,http://www.asu.edu/ (December 12, 2001), Roxana Botea, interview with Poon.

AsianWeek.com,http://asianweek.com/ (June 5, 2003).

San Francisco State University Art Department Web site,http://www.sfsu.edu/ (May 10, 2003).

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Poon (Andersen), Irene 1941-

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