Kearny Street Workshop (KSW) is the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the country. Offering classes and workshops, salons and student presentations, as well as professionally curated and produced exhibitions, performances, readings and screenings, KSW makes artists out of community members and community members out of artists.
KSW was founded in 1972 in San Francisco’s Chinatown/Manilatown neighborhood. Much of its art and definition were derived from the struggles and issues surrounding that neighborhood: the struggle for low-income housing; the strikes of garment and electrical union workers; the connection with the tenants of the International Hotel, where KSW was housed until our eviction from the site in 1977. The early 1970s was a time of growth for the Asian American Movement. All across the country new groups were forming that addressed issues of health care, identity, history and cultural pride. Artistically, it was a fertile time of exploration. KSW was part of a grassroots art movement that pioneered innovative and influential forms of Asian American art, including Asian American jazz, small press publications, silkscreen posters and large-scale public murals.