In December 1999 longtime Riverside residents Voy Wong and Fay Hing Lee Wong bequeathed a generous endowment to the History of Art Department at UCR to assist students with the study and research of Asian Art. The department began by building a high quality digital image collection showcasing important artwork and architecture from China and Japan. This collection has developed into one of the richest databases of Asian art in the state and is accessible to all UCR students and faculty online and via the Wong Study Desk located in the department’s Graduate Research Center. The Wong Endowment has enabled the growth of teaching and scholarship on Chinese and Japanese art within the department and across the campus. The 1561 images produced from the Wong bequest have supported 54 undergraduate and graduate Asian art history courses in the department and have been a key factor in graduate student research.
The Wong Forum on Art and the Immigrant Experience
With the digital collection as a strong foundation, the Department of Art History sought to dramatically expand the impact of the Wong Endowment on the study of Asian art. Recognizing the Wong’s own legacy as pioneering Chinese immigrants to Riverside, we utilized the Wong Endowment to create an annual forum for scholarly discussions, student workshops, and public events exploring the vital role of artistic expression in shaping the immigrant experience. The forum’s focus centers on the artistic expression of Asian and Pacific Rim cultures and their diasporas in the Americas.
The Wong Forum consists of an annual project, event or scholarly activity organized by Art History faculty and students with the support of the broader university and regional communities. The Forum’s topics and configuration changes from year to year, but always draws from ongoing research on Asian art and the immigrant experience conducted by department faculty and related UCR scholars. The possibilities for Forum events include: scholarly conferences on the university campus, lectures by distinguished scholars, artists or public intellectuals, faculty/student research workshops, performances, film series, and museum exhibitions held at the UCR Artsblock Museums. These events emphasize the engagement of undergraduate and graduate students in cutting-edge scholarship. The Forum makes special effort to interface with Riverside’s broader community and contribute to significant public events such as the Riverside Asian Pacific Culture Association’s Lunar New Year Festival. It also incorporates important local Asian-American historical sites such as the Harada House (a landmark of Japanese-American wartime internment).