In 2019, Chinese Culture Center in collaboration with the Chinatown Art & Culture Coalition invited bi-coastal artist Christine Wong Yap to explore belonging and resiliency in Chinatown. Since COVID-19, the project has transformed to respond to the unexpected surge of hate, decline in tourism, and other stigmatization towards the Chinatown community beginning earlier this year in January.
Through facilitating story-collection, community participation and online programs, Wong Yap encourages the public to reflect on what makes Chinatown special. With few opportunities to tell the community’s stories, this project work illuminates Chinatown’s impact as a “home” and a site for belonging for many一reaching far beyond its 3-by-8 block perimeter and across generations.
Ways to experience the the project in-person & online:
41 Ross - "Alive & Present: Cultural Belonging in S.F. Chinatown and Manilatown" Storefront installation, self guided tour, and comic book
735 Clay St - "Hopes for Chinatown" Public Art in Collaboration w/ 100 Days Action
CCC Design Store - "Alive & Present" Comic Book
CCC Instagram - "Art, Culture & Belonging" Instagram Activities
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Alive & Present: Cultural Belonging in S.F. Chinatown and Manilatown
by Christine Wong Yap & 20 Contributors
Launched October 13th, 2020 On View 24/7 at 41 Ross and Available at CCC Design Store
"Alive & Present" is an outdoor installation, English/Chinese comic book, and a self-guided "Walking Tour of Belonging.
From late-2019 to mid-2020, the public was invited to share their story of art, culture, and belonging in San Francisco Chinatown, the collected memories and reflections from the "Story of Belonging" survey are source materials informing the 56-page comic, featuring real contributors’ perspectives on belonging and includes:
- 3 illustrated maps of 26 places of belonging
- 5 personal histories: remembrances of special bonds with grandparents,
family vacations, and memories of Manilatown and the I-Hotel
- 4 spotlights on places of belonging: Portsmouth Square, Stockton Street, a
boba café, and a youth empowerment program
- 6 popular art and culture activities such as Lunar New Year, walking,
listening, and—of course—eating!
Every now and then, we’ll drop off a limited number of comic books and maps at 41 Ross, free to take. The comic is also available here if you would like to support and purchase a copy.
Image caption: Christine Wong Yap and contributors, Alive & Present: Cultural Belonging in S.F. Chinatown and Manilatown, 2020
"Art, Culture, and Belonging" Documentary
Lead artist Christine Wong Yap discussing why do they think art and culture are important to Chinatown, and what are their hopes and dreams for Chinatown, with belonging story contributors, community members and project partners.
Hopes for Chinatown (2020) Public Art
as a part of the Art for Essential Workers initiative
Location: 735 Clay St
Launched in May 2020, Currently On View
In June 2020, Christine was invited by “100 Days of Action”, a collective of artists and activists, to submit to the “Art for Essential Workers” initiative to install printed artworks to be displayed in Chinatown storefronts at no cost to the businesses.
Wong Yap found this project was a good opportunity to thread together with “Art, Culture and Belonging.” One of the questions she asked in the "Story of Belonging" survey was what people’s hopes and dreams for Chinatown were. Wong Yap found a selection of answers that are optimistic and addressed discrimination which she used in a design with the quotes hand-lettered both in English and Chinese. Check out "Add Oil, Chinatown!" Artist Talk on Public Art & Neighborhood Recovery to learn more about this work!
100 Days Action is is a Bay Area artist collective that produces creative resistance projects to build community at the intersection of art, activism, and social engagement.
Hopes for Chinatown
in Atlanta, GA
In April 2021, as the "Hopes for Chinatown" project's extension, "Hopes for Chinatown" appeared on a billboard located at MLK Jr.Drive SW and Central Ave in Atlanta, GA, as part of For Freedoms’ AAPI Solidarity campaign. In partnership with Orange Barrel Media.
Image caption: Christine Wong Yap with contributors, 2020–2021, “Less Discrimination, More Understanding (YY)” digital art, dimensions variable.
Commissioned by For Freedoms in partnership with Orange Barrel Media.
Photography by Connie Huang and Jonathan Fan.