children kneeling in a loose circle against a cobalt blue background with constellation patterns

%C2%A9 Estate of Martin Wong

Polaris, 1987

expand_more

Acrylic on canvasexpand_more

The P.D. McMillan Memorial Fundexpand_more  2017.35

Not on Viewexpand_more

Martin Wong was a chronicler of the Chinese American community in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the South and Central American, Caribbean, and African American communities on New York’s Lower East Side. While much of Wong’s work depicts the grittier side of life in urban immigrant neighborhoods, Polaris offers an optimistic and fantastical vision. Eight children of various ethnicities sit in a circle, playing marbles on a large map of the night sky. At the center of both the map and the canvas is Polaris, the North Star, which serves as a guide for navigation. Here the children, like the stars in the Northern Hemisphere, circle around Polaris—a symbolic beacon of a brighter future.

Martin Wong’s work complements a number of aspects of Mia’s collection, including artists active in New York’s East Village in the 1980s such as Keith Haring and Kiki Smith; social realist painters such as Ben Shahn, Alice Neel, and Marsden Hartley; and self-trained painters such as Minneapolis-based Cy Thao, who also focused his attention on documenting the Asian immigrant experience in the United States. Wong’s work is an important addition to Mia’s permanent collection and indicative of the museum’s ongoing commitment to increased representation of artists of color.

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

children kneeling in a loose circle against a cobalt blue background with constellation patterns

© Estate of Martin Wong