"Passing By," Dong Kingman (1942 )
This print depicts a train in the quick moment when it rushes through a crossing. It is portrayed with great momentum and energy. While using a lithograph technique, Chinese-American artist Dong Kingman maintains the energy of a watercolor painting by avoiding harsh lines and achieving a translucent, painterly quality with the ink. Throughout Kingman’s artistic career and during the Great Depression, he worked as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which employed artists during a time of extraordinary unemployment. After his time working under the WPA, Kingman enlisted in the United States Army and spent his time as an artist for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Kingman also worked as a cultural ambassador and international lecturer for the U.S. Department of State. Kingman’s dynamic prints and watercolors were recognized by Hollywood filmmakers who used his work to set films like Flower Drum Song (1961) and 55 Days At Peking (1963). Kingman’s contributions to the Hollywood film industry helped to increase the visibility and representation of narratives about Chinese immigration and the Boxer Rebellion in China. The transcontinental railroad, an infrastructure development that has been a point of pride in American history, was built by hundreds of underpaid Chinese immigrants, who came to the United States during the California Gold Rush, but suffered discrimination and persecution after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882. In spite of the central role these workers played in building the railroad, their labor and contributions remain largely unacknowledged.