© Estate of Martin Wong%2C Courtesy PPOW Gallery%2C NY
Acrylic on canvasexpand_more
The P.D. McMillan Memorial Fundexpand_more 2017.35
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.
© Estate of Martin Wong, Courtesy PPOW Gallery, NY