Life Lessons is a social practice and letterpress project on mental well-being. Each print features a real person’s advice, rooted on their own lived experiences.
Most of the prints are inspired by writing submitted by the public in response to prompts on adversity, coping, and advice to friends in similar situations. A few prints were inspired by my own experiences with mental health.
By instigating self-reflection, gathering writing that informs future prints, and distributing advice and artwork to others, I hope Life Lessons might enact a positive, upward spiral rooted in the lived experiences of community members.
I conceived of Life Lessons while leading workshops with social workers and mental health services consumers in Berkeley (Huichin), California in 2021. I showed participants how to use inexpensive craft foam to create relief prints. Then, I challenged myself to use the same material to print on a letterpress. I have always viewed printmaking as a medium of accidents, experiments, and improvised solutions, and this spirit of innovation and a “do whatever works” mentality seem to echo the adaptability required to be resilient in times of uncertainty and rapid change. When I exhibited Life Lessons in 2022, I invited visitors to submit writing in exchange for a letterpress print.
I expanded Life Lessons by engaging visitors and residents in a storefront studio in Eastport (Muselenk), Maine in 2023.
Signed and numbered limited editions of the prints are now available from my online shop.
A selection of prints are available from Kala Art Institute (see details on Artsy).
Credit: Christine Wong Yap, Life Lessons, 2021-2023, letterpress-printed relief prints, 11 x 8.5 to 12 x 18 inches each, editions of 20–35 with exchange prints. Printed by the artist.
Life Lessons was supported by Kala Art Institute’s Print Public Municipal Artist-in-Residence program in partnership with the City of Berkeley’s Mental Wellness and Recovery program and by StudioWorks, a program of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art, a private not-for profit organization.
Thanks to Jamie Works-Wright and Crystal Lachman at the City of Berkeley. Thanks to Ellen, Mayumi, Meg, Nick and Gisela at Kala; to Kristin, Hugh, and Allison at Tides; and to Meri Page. Thanks to Cole Chang, Kennedy Morgan, and Josh for art and installation assistance. Thanks to all the workshop participants (Edith Reisman, Gwen Lark, Jamie Works-Wright, Norine Shima, and anonymous) and all writing contributors. Select installation photos by Ken James Butler. Studio portrait by Hugh French, courtesy of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art.