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Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision Proposal

Objective: Understand the importance of Carlos Villa’s work to prioritize and spotlight artists who are underrepresented.

“[W]e must recognize that the organized identity groups in which we and others find ourselves are in fact not monolithic but made up of members of different and perhaps competing identities. Rather than viewing this as a threat to group solidarity, we should view it as an opportunity for bridge building and coalition politics.” (Crenshaw)

From 1976 until his death in 2013, Carlos Villa organized an iconic series of exhibitions, symposia, curricula, publications, and web projects under the Worlds in Collision umbrella. These projects and conversations addressed multiculturalism, education, activism, and identity politics with the intention of shaping a more inclusive art world and art history. Specifically, Worlds in Collision sought to exhibit work of women artists and artists of color from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  

In this activity, you will pretend that you are part of the group organizing this year’s Worlds in Collision symposium, and you will need to find an artist who fulfills this event’s mission. You will also learn what inspired Villa to explore multiculturalism based on a video about curating and collecting Filipino art in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Content Standards (California)


Historical and Social Sciences (Grade 9-12)

HSS 10.4.2: Discuss the locations of the colonial rule of such nations as England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Portugal, and the United States.


HSS 10.4.3: Explain imperialism from the perspective of the colonizers and the colonized and the varied immediate and long-term responses by the people under colonial rule.


Historical Research, Evidence, and Point of View 

HSS.9-12.1: Students distinguish valid arguments from fallacious arguments in historical interpretations.


HSS.9-12.2: Students identify bias and prejudice in historical interpretations.


HSS.9-12.3: Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.

Historical Interpretation 


HSS.9-12.1: Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.


HSS.9-12.2: Students recognize the complexity of historical causes and effects, including the limitations on determining cause and effect.


Video, Filipino Community Voices, Bay Area; Worlds in Collision slideshow (download PDF from sidebar above). 


Imperialism: state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas.

Western Colonialism: a political-economic phenomenon whereby various European nations explored, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world.

Multicultural: the inclusion of the views and contributions of diverse members of society while maintaining respect for their differences and withholding the demand for their assimilation into the dominant culture.


Looking at Art

  1. Watch: Video, Filipino Community Voices, Bay Area
  2. Reflect: Write some of the reasons why it is important to include and collect Filipino art.  
    • What are the challenges that the interviewees mention?  
    • What are some solutions to overcome these barriers?  
  3. Present: Show the slideshow presentation. Have students look at each artwork for 30 seconds then ask:
    • What’s going on (happening) in the picture?  Or, what do you see?
    • What do you see that makes you say that?
    • What does it make you wonder?
  4. Discuss: Introduce Carlos Villa by reading his biography (or review his life in lesson, Shadows for Carlos Villa), and introduce the mission of Worlds in Collision

Worlds in Collision Proposal

  1. Research: Based on the discussion, go on the internet, or the Asian Art Museum’s Education Resource Portal, and find an artist (living or dead) who could be featured in a Worlds in Collision
  2. Activity: Pretend that you are part of the group organizing this year’s Worlds in Collision Write a proposal that argues why the artist you found in step five fulfills this event’s mission and should be featured. Your proposal should include:
    • The artist’s name and a brief biography;
    • The proposed artist’s relevance to the Worlds in Collision symposium’s mission and the Asian American experience and/or another underrepresented group’s experience;
    • At least one example of their artwork and its relevance to the symposium’s mission;
    • Details about your interest in this artist and their artwork;
    • (Optional) The artist’s work in social justice or civic engagement;
    • Works cited and image credit(s).
  3. Conclusion: Share your proposal with your peers.

For more lessons based on Carlos Villa, visit the artist’s teacher packet.