Christine Wong Yap (she/they*) is a visual artist and social practitioner working across community engagement, drawing, printmaking, publishing, and public art, specializing in hyperlocal participatory research projects which amplify grassroots perspectives on belonging, resilience, and mental well being. She has developed projects with the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, For Freedoms, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, the Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, Times Square Arts, and the Wellcome Trust, among others. Holding a BFA & MFA in printmaking from the California College of the Arts, she lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area, after a decade of living in New York City.
Christine Wong Yap (she/they*) is a visual artist and social practitioner working across community engagement, drawing, printmaking, publishing, and public art. Her practice, which is grounded in positive psychology, focuses on hyperlocal participatory research projects which amplify grassroots perspectives on belonging, resilience, and mental well being.
She has worked with, learned from, and amplified perspectives from diverse publics, such as Chinese- and Spanish-speaking working-class women in San Francisco; seniors in midtown Manhattan; middle school students in Sheboygan, WI; residents and cultural workers in San Francisco Chinatown and Manilatown; and familes who have experienced homelessness in Albuquerque, NM.
In 2023, she opened three solo social practice exhibitions (at the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, the California College of the Arts Campus Gallery, and the Berkeley Art Center). Her work has also been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Art (Bronx), the Chinese Arts Centre (also known as Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and esea contemporary; Manchester U.K.), the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), the Queens Museum of Art (Queens, NY), Times Square Arts (NYC), Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art (San Francisco), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), as well as in Los Angeles; Portland, OR; Manila; and Poland.
An honoree of the 2020 YBCA 100, she has been awarded grants from the Queens Council on the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and the Center for Cultural Innovation. With Christine as lead artist, partner organizations have been awarded grants from the NEA and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. She has served as a visiting artist at Ox-Bow School of Art (Saugatuck, MI), the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and California State University Monterey Bay, as well as the keynote speaker at the Social Justice Teach-in at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
She has participated in 20 artist residencies, studio programs, and fellowships at c3:initiative (Portland, OR), California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA), Center for Book Arts (NYC), the City of Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), esea contemporary (formerly Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester U.K.), Harvester Arts (Wichita, KS), Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA), Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, CA), Library Foundation of Los Angeles & Los Angeles Public Library (Los Angeles, CA), Little Paper Planes (at Minnesota Street Project studios; San Francisco, CA), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (Governor’s Island, NY & Lower Manhattan, NY), Montalvo Arts Center (Saratoga, CA), Othering & Belonging Institute (formerly the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society) at U.C. Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), Palo Alto Art Center (Palo Alto, CA), Sanitary Tortilla Factory (Albuquerque, NM), Tides Institute and Museum of Art (Eastport, ME), Times Square Arts (New York, NY), Wellcome Trust (at large: NYC, Berlin, Tokyo, Bengaluru), and Woodstock Byrdcliffe (Woodstock, NY).
She has served on selection panels for Art Moves Festival of Billboard Art, c3:initiative, Center for Book Arts, Corning Museum of Glass, Headlands Center for the Arts, Interface Gallery, Little Paper Planes, Othering & Belonging Institute, Signal Fire, and the Tides Museum & Museum of Art.
Reviews of her work have appeared in Art Practical, Hyperallergic, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has also appeared in print in the Oakland Tribune, the East Bay Express, Sing Tao Daily, and World Journal, and on the websites of Artforum, CNN, Girls Magazine, The Guardian, KQED, New York Magazine, New Yorker Magazine, Oprah, SFMOMA’s Open Space blog, and White Hot Magazine. She has contributed to books published by the Headlands Center for the Arts, INCA Press, Montalvo Art Center, Montez Press, New Press, New York University Press, Routledge, and Workman Publishing. She is one of 12 “host-heroes of belonging” in Design for Belonging by Susie B. Wise (Ten Speed Press/Stanford d.school, 2022).
Yap holds a BFA and MFA in printmaking from the California College of the Arts. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she continues to live and work, following a decade of living in New York City from 2010 to 2021.
*I identify as straight, cis, and female; I grew up using gender-neutral pronouns in Cantonese and “they” doesn’t bother me.
Born in California. Lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
MFA. California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA.
BFA with High Distinction. California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA.
Juror. MFA & Affliate Artist Awards, Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA.
Curator. This & That
International Mail Art Swap. An exhibition and exchange between 32
artists and artists’ groups spanning the U.S., U.K., Vienna, Prague,
Hong Kong and Manila. Exhibited within Involved,
Socially at Triple Base Gallery.
I am a visual artist and social practitioner who works in community engagement, drawing, printmaking, and publishing to explore dimensions of psychological wellbeing like resilience, belonging, collaboration, and interdependence.
I partner with organizations to engage communities and conduct research to inform site-specific public artworks and publications. I gravitate towards common materials and familiar forms, in order to lend accessibility and abundance to elusive sentiments and abstract concepts.
My participatory projects invite participants and audiences to engage in self-reflection, social connection, or salient emotional experiences. My work is informed by 10 years of autodidactic study of positive psychology—the empirical study of human flourishing and subjective wellbeing. Guided by the principle of affirming the positive, my projects typically aim to increase personal agency and emotional intelligence. I strive to practice the values of accessibility, transparency, generosity, and reciprocity in my process.
I see my practice as aligned with the idea of “artists as researchers who can design, experiment, fail, innovate, and contribute to society’s knowledge production” whose “different kinds of questions and outcomes” can help us to “regain our sense of connection, agency, and empathy—which are vital to a just and sustainable society.” (Louisa MacCall*)
My goals are to become a better social practitioner, to hone my craft in formulating original, elegant, and equitable social entanglements, and to contribute new knowledge to the world.
An essay that weaves together philosophical ideas from Hegel, Edward Casey, and Kongzi (Confucius), with billboards and a project on belonging in Chinatown.
“As daily life continues to be disrupted, we can begin to appreciate again the need for recognition that places afford. The art produced by Wong Yap and her collaborators, curated by Leung, reminds us of the role that art plays in the formation of place, our identity within it, and our need to recognize and communicate this belonging between us. Places are dynamic, as people are, full of tensions, contradictions, scenes of joy as well as despair. We are all touched by the places we belong and, by belonging to them, are able to become who we are. There, in the places we belong, we might come to recognize one another again.”
“This year, CCC partnered with artist Christine Wong Yap for the Art, Culture, and Belonging in Chinatown project, for which people were asked to submit their personal recollections of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Through intentional art and educational programming, CCC hopes visitors and residents view the neighborhood like a museum, “where it becomes an interactive site to deepen their understanding and sense of belonging through engaging with stories, people, and history,” Leung says, cautioning that without care and activism, Chinatowns will eventually disappear.”
“For the campaign’s second part, launching May 15, more than ten established and emerging contemporary artists, including Jenny Holzer, Carrie Mae Weems, Mel Chin, Duke Riley, and Pedro Reyes, contributed images and animations to be shared during minute-long video rotations, with new releases over the next several weeks.
“In addition to the 24 massive Times Square screens donated by Morgan Stanley, American Eagle, Maefield Development, and Branded Cities’ NASDAQ and Thomson Reuters displays, the videos will be shown on 1,774 LinkNYC kiosks across the five boroughs, and 300-plus JCDecaux Screens in New York, Boston, and Chicago.”
“I wanted to do something to support the community as shelter in place took hold. It’s become more urgent for the project to provide counter-narratives to xenophobic hate, to encourage the public to patronize small businesses in Chinatown, and to give participants opportunities to connect with and celebrate meaningful aspects of their identities and personal histories. Social distancing, isolation, and othering actually underscores my role as an artist: to offer space for participants to connect (even if virtually, or by memory or imagination right now) with the people, places, and cultural assets that help them feel a sense of belonging in SF Chinatown.” —Christine Wong Yap
“The Chinese Culture Center in the heart of San Francisco, California’s Chinatown, is working tirelessly to support artists during COVID-19 and share examples of creative work on Facebook and Instagram. Artist Christine Wong Yap recently did an Instagram takeover to encourage everyone to practice storytelling as part of the Art, Culture, and Belonging Project, which invites people to discuss how arts and culture contribute to their sense of belonging in Chinatown.”
“Do you feel belonging in your local library, a neighborhood bar, a regular meeting in city hall? Or do you carry your sense of belonging with you from place to place?
“New York-based artist and Oakland expat Christine Wong Yap is making that often-intangible feeling visible—by identifying, commemorating and sharing others’ sites of belonging—based on a survey of nearly 100 participants in the nine-county Bay Area region.
“Belonging happens when people feel safe, seen and accepted, Wong Yap says. Her questionnaire, issued over a five-week period at the end of 2018, asked participants identify a place where they think to themselves either ‘This is my community,’ ‘These are my people,‘ or ‘I can be me here.’”
“Tucked into a library near the museum’s café is a glass-walled gallery housing the installation for The People’s Guide to the Queens International, 2018. This meta-collaborative project by Brian Droitcour and Christine Wong Yap departs from the possibly terrifying idea that everyone’s a critic—as well as Droitcour’s ongoing interest in vernacular criticism and Wong Yap’s background with participatory events.”
“As you proceed through the galleries, be sure to pick up a copy of The People’s Guide to the Queens International placed throughout the Museum. The single-page forms were designed by artists Brian Droitcour and Christine Wong Yap to stimulate deeper encounters with the works on view. ‘Anyone,’ they propose in the accompanying wall text, ‘can be an art critic!’”
“Over the weekend, an organization in Brooklyn called the Interference Archive gave away about five thousand stickers, three thousand printed posters, a thousand buttons, and almost two gallons of red and black paint that ended up silk-screened onto T-shirts, tote bags, and patches in the form of mottoes like ‘Don’t Mourn, Organize.’”
Selected recent press. For full list, see the C.V. Bibliography
My favorite way to learn about art is to hear artists talking about their work. Here are links to videos about recent projects, and recordings of online talks and conversations.
Abundance, Connection, and Generosity | Artist Interview | Avant Arte
An introduction to my practice and a limited-edition artwork inspired by a dear friend in a collaboration between Avant Arte and For Freedoms. Filmed in the printshop at Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA.
Belonging at the LA Public Library
A short clip from a longer video about my project as an artist-in-residence with the Library Foundation of LA and the LAPL commemorating clubs or affinity groups, with behind-the-scenes footage of making banners in my studio. On view in the Something in Common exhibition at the LAPL Central Branch through November 6, 2022.
Creative Attention: Artist Interview
Overview of my project as an artist-in-residence at the Palo Alto Art Center. I worked with teens in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto to develop calligraphy, portraits, and a collective map of belonging.
Virtual Armory Live | Public Art: The Way Forward
Jean Cooney, Director, Times Square Arts; Michelle Woo, Director, For Freedoms; and Artists Christine Wong Yap and Nekisha Durrett discuss their current project Messages for the City and the role of public art in light of the 2020 pandemic and in response to the current protests against racial injustice. Moderated by Nicole Berry, Executive Director, The Armory Show.
Virtual Studio Visits with LMCC Workspace Artists-in-Residence
For a snack-sized intro and overview of my 2020 projects, check out my five-minute artist’s talk (43:43)... (Then check out the other nine talented artists.)
During the 2020 Open House New York Weekend, LMCC hosted two live, Virtual Studio Visits, each featuring five members of the current Workspace artist residency cohort.
Add Oil, Chinatown! Artist Talk on Public Art & Neighborhood Recovery
A two-part series on public art’s role in Chinatown San Francisco. What’s the role of art during a time of crisis? How can artists participate in neighborhood recovery? Presented by the Chinese Culture Center in collaboration with 100 Days Action. With Hoi Leung, curator, and Jeremiah Barber, artist and member of 100 Days Action.
Curator Shannon R. Stratton leads a round-robin discussion with the artists participating in Between You and Me, an exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Art Center. Artists: Chloë Bass, Sara Clugage, General Sisters (Dana Bishop-Root and Ginger Brooks Takahashi), Lisa Jarrett and Harrell Fletcher (Harriet Tubman Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice), John Preus, Benjamin Todd Wills, and Christine Wong Yap.
Unfinished Live: Democracy & Voice
[I do not appear in this video, but my art does. I couldn’t be more honored to have my work be a spark in this conversation.]
Eric Liu asks Yo-Yo Ma to respond to the question in my billboard, “How do you keep your heart open?” Part of 2020 Awakening, a collaboration between Unfinished and For Freedoms.