From January 22–June 15, the Chinese Culture Center, the Chinatown Arts and Culture Coaltion, and I held an open call, asking the public share their story of art, culture, and belonging in San Francisco Chinatown:
What makes you feel, “I belong”?
How do arts and culture contribute to your sense of belonging in Chinatown?
There are a thousand tastes, smells, sights, sounds, and textures that make Chinatown special, and there are a thousand things that make YOU unique.
What makes Chinatown special to YOU?
The responses are informing a series of comics to be compiled into a comic book/zine. Participants will be eligible to receive a free copy of the resulting comic book/zine if their contributions are included. Some responses appear in Hopes for Chinatown, a temporary public art project new Portsmouth Square. We are also planning exhibition in Fall 2020 at 41 Ross Alley, where we plan to launch the comic book/zine.
By sharing what makes Chinatown special to each of us, we focus on the wonderful and diverse particulars that help us feel connected to a place and a community. We reveal what nourishes us, our neighborhood, and our sense of belonging.
We’re interested in culture—food, drink, language, clothing, traditions, festivals, spirituality, pop culture, night markets, lifestyles, and more.
And we’re also interested in art—visual arts, dance, theater, music, literature, film, architecture, design, and so on.
Here is one example from a past project, about egg custard tarts and memories of a beloved grandmother...
Maybe you feel a connection to your culture when you enjoy a BBQ pork noodle soup, drink boba tea, or snack on green tea flavored Pocky. Perhaps the sound of lion dancing brings back memories of your childhood apartment. Do you express yourself through ink paintings, anime, or Dance Dance Revolution? Do you bond with friends by reminiscing about Cantonese operas, discussing pop stars, or learning about traditional medicine? ...
See activities and comics from my recent Instagram takeover at Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco’s Instagram. Activities are archived in the Story Highlights, and you’re welcome to participate at anytime.
See Chinese Culture Center’s blog post for a synopsis of recent activities.
If you have any questions, please email Christine Wong Yap at .
Christine Wong Yap is a visual artist who works in social practice, drawing, printmaking, and publications, among other media.
She has developed projects on belonging in the Bay Area in 2018–2019, and Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2017 (see past artworks—such as certificates, bandannas, signs—and read other contributor’s stories of belonging in the book or zine).
She holds a BFA and MFA from the California College of Arts in Oakland and San Francisco. A longtime Bay Area resident, moved to New York in 2010, but returns often for family, residencies, and collaborative projects like this.
This is a project of the Chinatown Arts and Culture Coalition and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.
The Instagram takeover activities were mentioned in “Buckle Up for a Virtual Culture Road Trip This Weekend” on the Bloomberg Philanthropies Blog on May 1.