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First Responders


The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) presents First Responders, featuring the work of artist Yang Yi. Presented in collaboration with Chinatown Soup and in partnership with Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation (CPLDC), this special exhibition marks the anniversary of September 11, 2001. AAAC is proud to present this body of work as both a commemoration and celebration of the American spirit embodied by all New Yorkers whose response to the events of that day will forever mark our national memory. 

Yi’s pentaptych took five years to complete and pays tribute to the brave members of the FDNY and paramedics. Reminiscent of San Francisco’s Coit Tower, decorated by Diego Rivera-inspired muralists in homage to public service workers and racial equality, Yi’s paintings feature all 343 faces of the first responders who were killed at the World Trade Center 15 years ago. This year, we come together to remember 'city as community' and question how we might build upon that feeling in today's New York.

About the Artist Yang Yi, 59, came to the United States from China in 1995, and he was soon able to make a living drawing caricatures in Central Park. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, passersby would show Yi photos of loved ones who had lost their lives and ask him to create portraits. In 2010, Yi saw a mural on the side of the Flushing firehouse that inspired him to paint a tribute of his own. Working out of his small apartment in Flushing, Queens, Yi took five years to create the five canvases presented. A portrait artist by trade, Yi deviated from his usual practice to create a tableau of events and symbols from the city’s most difficult days. Images of debris-covered survivors, the American flag flying above the wreckage, and faces in various stages of response. 

Earlier Event: August 16
Reverend Jen's Troll Museum Resurrection
Later Event: October 4
Slippery When Wet