Asia Society Honors Five Extraordinary Women at Asia Arts Game Changers Gala

Featured & Cover Asia Society Honors Five Extraordinary Women at Asia Arts Game Changers Gala

Asia Society New York hosted the annual Asia Arts Game Changer Awards on May 16th, 2024, recognizing five exceptional female artists and architects for their contributions to artistic environmental activism. “Through work spanning art, architecture, design, and more, they have expanded how we understand art, history, culture, and identity. Each artist has carved out a unique space for their art, but what is shared is their commitment to the environment,” remarked Asia Society President and CEO Dr. Kyung-wha Kang.

Asia Society Museum Director Yasufumi Nakamori kicked off the awards ceremony, noting the ingenuity of this year’s honorees: “Their meticulous research on a wide range of subjects from climate to building structures transform what we understand as art and architecture today. Through their work we are made aware of how the climate crisis affects the world.”

When presenting artist Rina Banerjee with one of the five 2024 Asia Arts Game Changer awards, art historian Joan Kee said that “beholding one of Banerjee’s works is like holding a galaxy of information.” Banerjee creates multi-faceted sculptures, paintings, and drawings. As a trained artist and an engineer, she often uses antiques alongside synthetic material like plastic to highlight the legacies of colonialism. In Banerjee’s own words, her work shows how “what can become beautiful and grotesque becomes blurred,” highlighting “how vulnerable our world really is.”

Artist Minouk Lim was honored for what curator Lauren Cornell calls “an ability to turn memory into material and find new ways to understand the present.” In her art, Lim uses non-traditional organic ingredients, like squid bones, that people would otherwise not come into contact with. “Words like climate emergency and climate degradation are too abstract, so I try to bring them into my work and make them concrete,” said Lim.

Architect and artist Maya Lin is known for her remarkable memorials that bridge art and history, the first of which was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. “If I can present the facts, you will come away with another way of seeing the future,” shared Lin, explaining how her memorials focus on more than just loss.

Her fifth memorial, What is Missing?, is a cross-platform, global memorial to the planet that calls attention to the crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. An interactive presentation from What Is Missing is currently on view in Asia Society Museum’s COAL + ICE exhibition. “Someone once asked me ‘as far as the environment is, am I optimistic?’ and I just want to say, we have no choice but to be wildly optimistic,” said Lin as she accepted her award.

Architect Toshiko Mori has worked on a broad range of award-winning architectural programs across the world, including urban, civic, institutional, cultural, residential, and museum design. When presenting her with the Arts Game Changer Award, Asia Society Trustee Betsy Cohen remarked on Mori’s renowned work for the Brooklyn Central Library. “The element that stands out to me from Toshiko’s professional career is the way in which she translated an idea on paper into something that is beloved by the community that frequents the institution,” said Cohen.

The final award of the evening was presented to artist Anicka Yi, who has produced a unique body of work  that blurs the lines between what is human, animal, plant, and machine. Yi says she fuses “ancient wisdom with contemporary paradigms to better contribute to our planet.” Curator Lydia Yee, who presented the Asia Arts Game Changer Award, praised Anicka for her ability to explore complex questions like ‘what does climate change smell like?’ “She invites us to break free from behavioral patterns that are changing our ecosystem,” said Yee.

Throughout the evening, guests could bid on auction items that were on display from artists Francesco Clemente, Vibha Galhotra, Jitish Kallat, Yayoi Kusama, Christian Marclay, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Sara VanDerBeek.  The auction, made possible through a partnership with Artsy, will be open through May 21, 2024. 

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