Art, Culture, and Belonging in S.F. Chinatown is a community-engaged project exploring the impact of arts and culture on belonging in San Francisco Chinatown.

illustration of four figures sitting at a table, each with a handout they've filled in, with thought bubbles of a woman with steamed buns, a bald figure doing kung fu, two women holding a Chinese dress, and two people with drawings, one with a Pikachu, the other with the Chinese character for health

First, locals shared their stories of belonging.

photo of artwork with text in chinese and english in pink and red on a boarded up storefront in Chinatown with masked passersby

Then I turned their words into a public artwork, Hopes for Chinatown.

Alive and Present comic books in english and chinese, photographed in an alleyway in Chinatown

I interpreted and drew the narratives in a comic book.

Alive and Present comic books in english and chinese, photographed in an alleyway in Chinatown

Now, the public can visit a storefront installation and take a self-guided walking tour.


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.

I’m incredibly proud of this project for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • A deepened understanding of culture, identity, and belonging.
  • The culmination of a year-long community-engaged process and several months of illustration.
  • My most language-accessible project to date (all credit to YY Zhu and Weiying Yu of CCC).
  • Contributors’ stories form a profound sense of a place rich with cultural assets and vibrant discoveries in shared public space that speaks to density, spontanaeity, and continuity. It is crucial for Chinatown to survive the current pandemic and economic uncertainty and thrive for future generations. Chinatown (and Manilatown) is a living memory palace where memories are created daily.
  • A solid partnership with Chinese Culture Center of SF (CCC) and the Chinatown Arts and Culture Coalition. Comic books will be freely distributed to the neighborhood via the Chinatown Community Development Corporation 華協中心, the I-Hotel Manilatown Center, and the Chinatown Public Health Center. Neighborhood residents can also pick up free copies (as available) at 41 Ross Alley.

Partners & Supporters

This is a project of the Chinatown Arts and Culture Coalition and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. It is supported by the San Francisco Foundation.

Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco logo logo of the San Francisco Foundation



Photo of comic books in alley by YY Zhu/CCCSF.