May 1, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Highlights Opening of Corky Lee Exhibit to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Governor Hochul Highlights Opening of Corky Lee Exhibit to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

‘Focus on Justice: The Photography of Corky Lee’ on View in the New York State Capitol

Learn More About the Exhibit Here

Governor Kathy Hochul announces the opening of “Focus on Justice: The Photography of Corky Lee,” a new exhibition that shines a light on the life and art of celebrated photographer and activist Corky Lee. The exhibit is located in the Governor’s Reception Room on the second floor of the New York State Capitol and will run throughout May’s AAPI Heritage Month observance.

“New York proudly embraces the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month,” Governor Hochul said.  “The AAPI communities enrich our State, fostering strength and resilience through their boundless contributions. May this month bring joy as we honor their vibrant heritage.”

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “Each May it is an honor to highlight the generational contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is a tribute to the rich and diverse history of AAPI communities in New York State. OGS is proud to have created an AAPI Month exhibit for the Capitol that acknowledges the struggles AAPI communities have faced, the advancements they have made, and the extraordinary efforts of a photographer, Corky Lee, to shed light on their experiences.”

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Exhibit

Celebrated photographer and activist Corky Lee began his career documenting the lives, struggles, and contributions of Asian Americans in New York and beyond. His work not only brought awareness to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community but visually presented a retelling of AAPI history through the lens of the everyday Asian American.

Corky Lee was born Young Kwok Lee in Queens to immigrant parents from China; his father owned a hand-laundry business, and his mother was a seamstress. In junior high school, Lee came across the historic photo celebrating the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 and was struck that the photograph did not include any of the Chinese laborers integral to its construction. This sparked a 50-year career of activism, as Lee began using his camera to illuminate and correct omissions of AAPI communities from history.

Lee’s passion for the AAPI community continued until his very last photographic project, which depicted a group of Guardian Angels working to halt the spread of anti-Asian sentiment in New York City during the outbreak of COVID-19. Lee passed away shortly after in January 2021 at the age of 73 from COVID-19 complications.

Through Lee’s photographs, the exhibit delves into the influence that generations of New York’s AAPI community have had on transforming cities into bustling economic and multicultural hubs, broadening the horizons of New Yorkers by introducing them to new cultures and traditions, and providing a welcoming environment for refugees and their families hoping to start a new life in the Empire State.

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