Asian Improv aRts Midwest’s (AIRMW) mission is to build a vital, self-empowered Asian American Community in the Chicago area by advancing the understanding and profile of Asian American cultures through the traditional and contemporary cultural arts.
Our work at AIRMW is grounded in an understanding of tradition as an aesthetic lineage. We believe that we represent and offer something more than a simple image of tradition and culture. Our resident artists are part of a legacy that one is born into or dedicates truly a lifetime to and as such is an immensely valuable and irreproducible experience. In an effort to continue preserving these experiences that only express themselves through the non-canonized pedagogical model, we offer training sessions in lieu of "classes" that are more applicable to folk art and craft histories. We recognize however, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to preserve this form of rigidity of pedagogy, even in the classical arts, and especially in the US. But we believe there is a way to retain the aesthetic and philosophical principles that still can flourish within the contemporary world.
Our artistry is founded in the preservation of a philosophy that is rooted in traditional performing, musical and visual arts: the aesthetic lineage. AIRMW artists are more than just craftsmen or artisans, but artists who can recontextualize the practical applications of our technical expertise to create new and contemporary works relevant to the current cultural landscape. To do this, one must understand the underlying aesthetics of what makes a work "traditionally Japanese" or "traditional," and it is this philosophy that AIRMW continues to share through taiko, nihon-buyou and shamisen.
Through our in-house programs and collaborative projects, AIRMW is dedicated to creating productive relationships with artists, communities and institutions. We continually strive to maintain the responsibility of professionalism as part of cultural preservation by producing high quality arts programs that accurately reflect the multicultural, multi-ethnic reality of Chicago and the nation.