How I Keep Looking Up

How I Keep Looking Up is a socially-engaged project that invited the public to commemorate the sources of their resilience by designing flags.

Fifty flag designs were submitted, of which 40 were by local middle school students. I selected 10 designs to sew, based on design, narrative, mental health insights, sewability, and diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. Another flag was sewed by Hannah Jakus.

These flags represent beloved family members, friends, and pets; coping strategies; and learned skills to reduce anxiety and stress. Strengths like these help individuals and communities endure adversities from the interpersonal level of relationships to the social level of the uncertainty and isolation of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

I also designed a 16-page, full color zine featuring the 11 flags seen here, plus 16 more flag designs. Each of the 27 flag designs are accompanied by statements by the flag designers about the meanings of the flags and the sources of their resilience. The zine is downloadable (PDF, 1.7 MB) and available via my shop.

Developed in collaboration with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, in conjunction with Between You and Me, an exhibition curated by Shannon R. Stratton. The exhibition was supported by the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education, the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust, Kohler Foundation, Inc., Herzfeld Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Public programming related to Between You and Me was supported in part by the Wisconsin Arts Board, Arts Midwest, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thanks to Shannon R. Stratton, Kat Buckley, Hannah Jakus, Valerie Lazalier, Peter Rosen, Lauren Marx, Jonas Sebura, JMKAC staff, Maddi Spletter, Étude Middle School, and everyone who contributed flag designs or attended workshops.

Caption: Christine Wong Yap and contributors, How I Keep Looking Up, 2020–2021, social practice, drawing, flags; drawings roughly 8.5x11 inches each / flags roughly 3x5 feet each.