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Abby Chen, Contemporary Curator at Asian Art Museum, Receives 2024’s Distinguished Art Educator Award from National Art Education Association

 The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is thrilled to announce that the museum’s Head of Contemporary Art and Senior Associate Curator Abby Chen will receive the 2024 National Art Education Association Asian Art and Culture Interest Group (NAEA AACIG) Distinguished Art Educator Award.

Chen was selected for her “exceptional contributions to the pedagogy of Asian art and culture within art and museum education, by the NAEA AACIG Award Selection Committee, together with Dr. Ryan Shin, the President of AACIG, and their esteemed Board Members, who commended Abby’s “dedication to elevating underrepresented Asian American artists. Her community-focused approach in her new role has significantly impacted the field.”

Abby’s experimental approach often explores the intersectionalities of race, sexuality, gender, nation, migration, and especially technology in both the United States and Asia. The award-winning exhibitions, attendant programs, and publications organized by Abby — which span media from guerilla digital filmmaking to traditional oils, site-specific sculpture and performance, and AI-assisted animation —  have helped the Asian Art Museum in a few short years to reshape the narrative of contemporary Asian art outside of Asia. 

Key exhibitions and programs in her portfolio at the museum include After Hope: Videos of Resistance (Asian Art Museum, 2019; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, 2023); Chanel Miller: I was I am I will be (Asian Art Museum, 2021; Asia Society Texas, Houston, 2022); Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk (Asian Art Museum, 2022; Wrightwood 659, Chicago, 2023; TBC Hong Kong venue, 2024); and Into View: Bernice Bing (Asian Art Museum, 2022).

The latter, an exhibition The New York Times says “rewrites history,” underscores Abby’s wider ambitions for the museum’s contemporary program, which are being honored by the NAEA AACIG:

Into View: Bernice Bing is an opportunity for audiences of all ages to learn there is more to modern and contemporary American art than what they’ve been told, that it is not a monolith in terms of gender, sexuality, culture, and place, but an intersection. Bing’s ever-evolving artistic practice was deeply reflective of both her Bay Area and her Chinese origins, and is inextricable from the circle of women artists she built up around her and which she helped sustain. My goal is for us to showcase more artists like Bing, and offer ourselves as a place of care and imagination for Asian American culture and identity, in all its many forms.”

As a result of this award, Abby will be celebrated with her acceptance speech at this year’s National Art Education Association’s convention in Minneapolis, MN. The Award Ceremony will be held on April 5, 2024.

“We could not be more proud of Abby,” says Jay Xu, The Barbara Bass Bakar Director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum, “Her work connects the past to the cutting-edge present through exhibitions that bring some of the most exciting artists of our times from the margins to the center. She is a champion for change — change that opens our eyes to new voices and new stories, showing us all how connected we really are.”


About the NAEA AACIG

The National Art Education Association’s Asian Art and Culture Interest Group (AACIG) is committed to celebrating outstanding contributions in the field of art, community, and museum education, particularly those that advocate for and enrich our understanding of Asian art and culture. It is with great admiration that we recognize individuals who not only embody professional and pedagogical excellence but also engage in culturally responsive practices and transformative applications to make Asian art and culture more inclusive and accessible.

Founded in 1947, the National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts, design, and media arts education professionals. The NAEA distinguishes itself as the nation’s leading visual arts education advocacy and resource group.


About the Asian Art Museum

Located in the heart of San Francisco, the museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art, with more than 20,000 awe-inspiring artworks ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations. Dynamic special exhibitions, cultural celebrations and public programs for all ages provide rich art experiences that unlock the past and spark questions about the future. 


Image: Abby Chen in front of Pattern Recognition, 2020 by Jenifer K Wofford © Asian Art Museum