ShiPu Wang Receives Fifth Annual Frost Essay Award

April 8, 2009
News Release

The editorial board of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s scholarly journal, awarded the 2008 Patricia and Phillip Frost Essay Award to ShiPu Wang, assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced. His article, “Japan against Japan: U.S. Propaganda and Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Identity Crisis,” appeared in the spring 2008 issue (vol. 22, no. 1).

The Frost Award recognizes excellent scholarship in the field of American art history by honoring an essay that advances the understanding of the history of the arts in America and demonstrates original research and fresh ideas. The award, established in 2004, is presented annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to the journal and carries a $1,000 prize. Funding for this award is made possible by the generous contribution of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Endowment.

“The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a long history of encouraging new research and fresh ideas through awards, our robust fellowship program and publications such as the American Art journal,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “I am pleased that the 2008 Frost Essay Award goes to ShiPu Wang for his important essay about Yasuo Kuniyoshi.”

Each year, a jury of three members of the journal’s editorial board selects the winner from articles, interviews and commentaries published in the journal during the previous calendar year. The 2008 jurors were Sarah Burns, the Ruth N. Halls Professor of Fine Arts, Department of the History of Art at the University of Indiana, Bloomington; Sally Promey, professor of American studies, professor of religion and visual culture and deputy director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University; and Cécile Whiting, professor of art history at the University of California, Irvine.

The jurors wrote, “Wang’s ‘Japan against Japan’ is a focused and sharply detailed study using excellent and exhaustively researched primary sources. The topic is timely and provocative, and the author deals with subtlety and care with complex problems of identity and human histories in a time of crisis. Specifically, Wang provides a nuanced analysis of Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s paintings and posters produced after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He explains how Kuniyoshi, an artist of Japanese descent who had been living in the United States since 1906, shaped his art and public self-presentation to counter suspicions about his war-time loyalty to the U.S. This article not only foregrounds an important artist whose work is still neglected, but also thoroughly examines a phase of this artist’s career and his conflicted sense of identity during a turbulent period of Japanese American relations.”

Wang teaches global arts surveys, seminars in American art and an innovative photography course that combines history and practice. His current research focuses on rediscovering the diverse body of work by émigré Asian and Asian American artists who were prominent members of vanguard artist groups in pre-World War II America. Wang’s forthcoming book, to be published by University of Hawai’i Press, presents an in-depth and critical reevaluation of the artistic production of Kuniyoshi and his fellow émigré artists in the pivotal decades preceding and following Pearl Harbor, and the ways in which their work deals with issues of race, diasporas and nationalism in American art.

The journal American Art is part of the museum’s active publications program, which includes books and exhibition catalogs. It is produced by the museum’s Research and Scholars Center, which also administers fellowships for pre- and postdoctoral scholars and offers unparalleled research databases and extensive photographic collections documenting American art and artists.  

Information about subscribing, purchasing single issues or submitting articles to the journal, which is published for the museum by the University of Chicago Press, is available at A complete list of past Frost Essay Award winners and additional information about the award is available at

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the vision and creativity of Americans with approximately 41,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. Its National Historic Landmark building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25. Admission is free. Metro station: Gallery Place/Chinatown. Find the museum on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, ArtBabble, iTunes and YouTube. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 633-5285 (TTY). Web site:

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