Music: 'That's Alright' by Podington Bear, available at freemusicarchive.org
How I Keep Looking Up/Como Sigo Mirando Hacia Arriba/仰望
Exhibition On View at the Chinese Culture Center
Exposición: Chinese Culture Center
February 7 - August 4 2023
Presented by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, How I Keep Looking Up/Como Sigo Mirando Hacia Arriba/仰望 is a trilingual, multiethnic, community-based public art action that engages 16 working-class immigrant women in creating flags that represent their power and resilience.
Led by artist Christine Wong Yap, the project invited participants to a series of workshops at Chinatown's 41 Ross Alley and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts where they shared their migration journeys, developed design skills, and created flags alongside one another. The flags were unveiled at the 2023 Chinese New Year Parade, borne by the designers and their families.
This project is made possible by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Open Space Project.
Like the New Year parade itself, which dates back to the 1860s, Looking Up is fueled by movement—movement to link up neighborhoods and advocacy groups, movement to bridge language barriers and, of course, the migratory route of each worker. More than the finished product of the flags, the project foregrounds process and storytelling. It encourages participants to break out of one's comfort zone and monolingual community.
Over the course of three months, an amazing cohort of 16 immigrant women—representing the under-resourced Chinese and Latinx workforce in Chinatown and Mission—are taking over CCC’s communal art space at 41 Ross Alley and Mission Cultural Center’s Studio D.
Together, they teach each other phrases in their native language, share stories of struggle, and channel their source of resilience into a 3x4-feet flag design. The flags will be unveiled as part of a colorful parade after dark, where they will claim public space for domestic workers.
Looking Up pushes the definition of public art by replacing one-off commissions with ongoing reciprocities. Through venue and resource sharing, CCC and its community-based partners seek to strengthen the intersection between socially-engaged art and the fight for workers’ rights, as well as housing and tenant rights. Through gestures, sketches, and the work of tireless interpreters, different pockets of migrant workers are able to find solidarity.
The workshops offer the women a respite from their emotionally-taxing day jobs and an environment for social-emotional learning (SEL). Through Christine’s thoughtful facilitation and the dedication of our Spanish-speaking and Chinese-speaking staff, the trilingual workshops have been met by participants with enthusiasm and gratitude.
“By facilitating participants to consider their existing coping skills, I aspire to increase self-awareness about how they are experts of their own experiences, and that their personal histories carry insights about wellness which are valuable to the larger community.”
—Christine Wong Yap, artist
How I Keep Looking Up/Como Sigo Mirando Hacia Arriba/仰望 is made possible by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Open Space Project, which supports artists and non-profits in creating public art that uplifts the diverse communities of San Francisco and Oakland. The pandemic has unevenly affected communities of color and has had a lasting impact on public spaces. This project is among the many initiatives that aim to fortify these spaces.
People & Places/Personas y Lugares/團隊
Artist Bio/Biografía del artista/
Christine Wong Yap (she/they) is a visual artist and social practitioner working in community engagement, drawing, printmaking, publishing, and public art. She partners with organizations to conduct participatory research projects to explore dimensions of psychological wellbeing such as belonging, resilience, interdependence, and collaboration. Yap is serving as the 2022 Creative Citizenship Fellow at the California College of the Arts and artist-in-residence at large in Mindscapes—the Wellcome Trust’s major international cultural program about mental health in New York, Berlin, Tokyo, and Bengaluru. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, following a decade of living in New York City.
AiLan Xie 謝愛蘭
Cammi Huang 黃幸瑜
ChunMei Cao 曹春梅
DanLi Xu 許丹麗
MiaoFen Guan 關妙芬
Selina Luo 羅玉蓮
YongYu Lei 雷泳瑜
YongYu Situ 司徒咏瑜
YuJuan Chen 陳玉娟
Project Team/equipo de proyecto/
Lee Oscar Gomez
Huan Anny Cheng
Jacob Li Rosenberg
Calle24 Latino Cultural District
Causa Justa :: Just Cause
La Colectiva de Mujeres
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
Chinese Progressive Association
Chinatown Community Development Center
This project is supported by Kenneth Rainin Foundation's Open Spaces Program.
Additional Support: California Arts Council, California Department of Social Services, Community Challenge Grant, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, #StartSmall Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Grants for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fleishhacker Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, CCC Contemporaries
Special Thanks: Chinese Chamber of Commerce and San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade
Venue: 41 Ross, during Connie Zheng’s Table to Farm | 鄭韞欣: 從餐桌到農場 residency, June 15–September 15, 2022.