I started exploring belonging last year, during a five-week residency at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That project resulted in a 13 handlettered signs and a ’zine. Learn more.

image of belonging sign #1 at 2nd Street SW, in front of a coffee house and bike rack. Text of the sign: 'A Place of Belonging #1, we all belong here. Thriving, welcoming, and supportive of artists and creators. I feel more empowered and whole-nourished. JL.' image of a belonging sign at the head of a desire trail to th middle rio grande. Text of the sign: A Place of Belonging #5. we all belong here. In my neighborhood I can be myself and I can connect with and be of service to my community. BB. Un lugar de pernenencia. todos pertenencemos aquí. En mi barrio, puedo ser yo mismo, me puedo conectar con mis vecinos y puedo estar a su servicio.t

Two examples of hand-painted signs commemorating places of belonging in Albuquerque, NM in a 2017 project.

I also created a project to explore belonging in the Bay Area in Take Action, an exhibition at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Some of the stories collected there made their way into 100 Stories of Belonging in the S.F. Bay Area.

where do you feel belonging in the bay area. photo of a wall in a gallery. there's a map of the bay area painted on the wall, with a shelf with pins. there are cards marking specific places in the bay area.

Participants added their place of belonging to a map of the Bay Area (seen here on opening night).

I’m originally from the Bay Area, and have lived in the North Bay, Penninsula, and East Bay before relocating to Queens in 2010. I’ve returned regularly for family, friends, residencies, and exhibitions.


Story Collection

November–January 2, 2019

  1. I conducted writing workshops at San Francisco Art Institute, Soccer without Borders at Castlemont High School in Oakland, and the Union City Library (with a Chinese interpreter and support from Chinese Culture Center). I also invited participation over meals hosted by Evan Bissell and the UC Berkeley Public Service Center.
  2. I partnered with community organizationsNIAD in Richmond and The Beat Within in juvenile halls in six Bay Area counties—to collect stories from program participants.
  3. I worked with volunteers from Santa Clara University and San José State University. Volunteers conducted interviews with their family members.
  4. I invited the public to contribute via an open call available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Production & Commemoration

January–March 2019

At Kala Art Institute, I printed, hand-lettered, and framed certificates and I screen-printed bandanas. I installed certificates at places of belonging. I also edited and designed the book.


April 8–10, 2019

I presented the project and released the book at the Othering and Belonging Conference in Oakland.

More Info

Learn more about my methodology of collecting stories in the book.

You can also see the following process and research notes on my blog: