Tina Takemoto at the Center for Asian American Media

Living & Working

Tina Takemoto at the Center for Asian American Media

By Tina Takemoto April 17, 2019

How does one survive and thrive as an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area? Living & Working is a multi-platform column focusing on the experiences and strategies from those who continue to live and work in the Bay Area.

Tina Takemoto is the dean of Humanities and Sciences at California College of the Arts where they have taught in Visual Studies, graduate Fine Arts, graduate Visual & Critical Studies and the college-wide curriculum since 2003. Takemoto has held key leadership positions at CCA including serving as chair of the Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee, where they did important collaborative work on promotions policy and process. 

Takemoto is a visual studies scholar and artist whose work explores issues of race, illness, queer identity, memory, and grief. Takemoto's current artwork and research explores same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality of Japanese Americans incarcerated by the US government during World War II.  Takemoto has received grants and fellowships from the Fleischhacker Foundation, Art Matters, +LAB Artist Residency, James Irvine Foundation, and San Francisco Arts Commission. 

Takemoto's work has been exhibited and performed at Asian Art Museum, Oceanside Museum of Art, GLBT History Museum, New Conservatory Theatre, Sabina Lee Gallery, Sesnon Gallery, SF Camerawork, SOMArts, SFMOMA, and the Vargas Museum. Their film Looking for Jiro received the Jury Award for Best Experimental Film at Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and has been featured at Ann Arbor Film Festival, Frameline San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, MIX Milano Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, MIX New York Queer Experimental Film Festival, and San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

Takemoto's articles appear in Afterimage, Art Journal, Hyphen Magazine, Performance Research, Radical Teacher, Theatre Survey, Women and Performance,  and the anthologies Queering Asian American Art, Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories and Thinking Through the Skin. Takemoto serves on the board of Queer Cultural Center and is co-founder of Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts. 


The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

My name is Tina Takemoto. I go by she or they pronouns, and we are at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center which houses the Center for Asian America Media. 

Center for Asian American Media, otherwise known as CAAM, is one of my favorite places to be. This location is not actually where all of the action happens. The way that I usually encounter CAAM is through their film festivals—or that’s how I first encountered them. I’ve been going to their film festivals since 2003.

What is really exciting to me is the audience and the makers. I’m surrounded by audiences that are predominantly Asian American Pacific Islander folks. It’s such an amazing experience to be in a space like the Castro Theater filled with Asian American folks and watching films that have been directed by Asian American Pacific Islanders. There’s just so much love in the room that it’s incredible. I started off mostly as a film-watcher and enthusiast and eventually became a filmmaker, and I’ve been able to show films at CAAM fest. And so now, I feel like I also have this family of fellow filmmakers who I see every year. It’s incredible. 

We still have a lack of representation of Asian Americans and the Asian American experience in film, popular culture, and television. Being in the space that CAAM can provide...it really is amazing to be within audiences that understand the complexity of Asian American experience, that aren’t just battling with the really basic stereotypes around our expectations of what Asians look like in film.

The part of the Bay Area that I’m really excited about is the multiple communities I can be a part of—the Asian American community as well as the queer community—and the fact that there are tons of queer Asian Americans in the Bay Area is super exciting and mind-blowing to me. It really makes the West Coast the kind of place that I think I never want to leave.


Living & Working is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

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