Across 120 Locations in Times Square, Artworks Give Voice to the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community As They Stand Up to Harassment and Violence
(NEW YORK, NY — April 27, 2021) — In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Times Square Arts unveils Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s We Are More, a public art campaign that celebrates the resilience and diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in New York and around the country. The campaign also gives this community a powerful voice, responding to the stereotyping, harassment, and violence that has become increasingly severe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The 40 distinct artworks and typographic designs in We Are More will appear on Morgan Stanley’s digital billboard, JCDecaux digital displays, and Big Belly receptasigns in over 120 locations across the Times Square district.
As the fastest-growing immigrant population, Asian Americans often struggle with the “perpetual foreigner” label and many have felt confined by narrow archetypes like the straight A student, the exotic seductress, or the diseased refugee. We Are More directly addresses and denounces systemic racism and xenophobia at its root, through piercing questions, poignant messaging, vibrant colors, symbolic imagery, and portraits of defiant and proud Asian American and Pacific Islander New Yorkers. Phingbodhipakkiya intentionally juxtaposes rich tones and hues with the language of sorrow and anger to show that despite what AAPI people have faced in New York and elsewhere, they remain undeterred and steadfast members of the cities they call home.
To inform this campaign and celebrate the full diversity of the AAPI community, Phingbodhipakkiya collected dozens of stories from Asian American and Pacific Islanders across the U.S. that highlight an incredible range of experiences, languages, traditions, and cultural practices. These stories will be featured online at MoreThan.Art in conjunction with this public campaign in Times Square. Throughout the campaign’s run, the artist will be soliciting additional stories from the community, which can be submitted via the website.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. We Are More. Courtesy of the artist and Times Square Arts.
“Asian Americans have not been given space to express the full range of our feelings and identities. For decades, we have had little media representation—our faces were used as props, villains, or background characters. We Are More brings our faces and words to one of the most visible and trafficked intersections in the world. Just as Times Square connects people from all different backgrounds, the AAPI community draws from dozens of nationalities and cultures. With this campaign, we declare that we will no longer tolerate the narrow box that has been defined for us. We have been cursed at, pushed, spat on, stabbed, kicked, shot, and killed. We have been blamed for a pandemic we did not create, a crisis that has caused tremendous damage to our community. We will no longer bury our pain in silence and we will not be cowed by bullies or bigots. We are here to speak. We are here to stand. We are here to stay,” said artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya.
Bringing these artworks to Times Square further exemplifies Times Square Arts’ mission to give artists the largest platform available to spark important and timely conversations about current events and social justice. With pedestrian counts increasing to daily averages of over 130,000 visitors, Phingbodhipakkiya’s artworks will be seen by thousands of visitors and New Yorkers each day with the goal of spreading wide awareness around the discrimination and violence experienced by AAPI New Yorkers daily.
“We are proud to have Phingbodhipakkiya’s public campaign take over the landscape of Times Square, creating space for the expansiveness and depth of the AAPI experience, claiming bold and poignant truths that demand our attention and propose a broader shift in consciousness” said Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney.
Last spring, Times Square Arts spread messages of healing and hope across New York with Messages for the City in solidarity with the countless essential workers that kept the city running. Later in 2020, Times Square became a gathering place for those who stood in solidarity with racial justice. Now, We Are More continues Times Square Arts’ legacy of spotlighting artist voices that address the most pressing issues of the current moment.
ABOUT TIMES SQUARE ARTS
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators, such as Mel Chin, Tracey Emin, Jeffrey Gibson, Ryan McGinley, Yoko Ono, and Kehinde Wiley, to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity.
ABOUT AMANDA PHINGBODHIPAKKIYA
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist. As artist-in-residence with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Amanda’s art series celebrating the resilience of the AAPI community, “I Still Believe in Our City'', reached millions in New York City and worldwide through her Atlantic Terminal billboard, subway domination, and social media amplification. In the wake of the Atlanta shootings in March 2021, art from the series appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. From large-scale murals, augmented reality (AR) experiences, 3D printed sculptures, and interactive installations, Amanda makes the invisible, visible. She has explored microscopic universes, familial memories, and the power of collective action, challenging viewers to rethink the world around them and revealing the often unseen depth, resilience, and beauty of communities of color. Her work has been shown at the Cooper Union, Google, the Sorbonne, and recognized by The New York Times, Fast Company, and the Guardian. She has received support from the Sloan Foundation, the Café Royal Cultural Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation and her work is part of the permanent collection at the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Earlier in her career, Amanda worked as a researcher studying Alzheimer’s Disease at Columbia Medical Center and received her MFA from Pratt Institute. She is currently working on FINDINGS, a national mural series celebrating women and science, in partnership with the Heising-Simons Foundation.
JCDecaux is a member of the JCDecaux Group, the world’s largest out-of-home media group with operations in more than 80 countries. JCDecaux operates through several lines of business in the United States, including airports, billboards, transit, malls as well as street furniture programs in the cities of New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and across the Greater Los Angeles area. Through its ongoing partnership with the Times Square Arts Alliance and other programs, JCDecaux provides a place for artistic voices to reach our shared urban communities.
Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel
Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel