This solo exhibition unveiled three new projects which explored belonging among young Chinese-speaking immigrants.
I developed Recognitions / 认 • 知 as the 2022 Creative Citizenship Fellow at my alma mater, the California College of the Arts. It marked the culmination of a collaborative social practice project with Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School—a public, one-year, language immersion elementary school in San Francisco’s Chinatown, serving Chinese-speaking recent immigrants.
Building upon my participatory research projects exploring belonging, the exhibition featured new projects that integrated artworks by elementary school students.
In reflecting on their immigration journeys, many students shared that the airplane flight was scary, painful, boring, or exciting. I created 13 stuffed airplanes based on their drawings.
Since students from schools in China aren’t typically exposed to social-emotional learning, I invited them to share their perspectives. I added their quotes as calligraphy to their self-portraits in What I Love & Miss, a series of 20 drawings.
To welcome and help young newcomers get to know their city, I created Map of Young Newcomers’ Feelings of Home and Positive Qualities, an interactive 120-piece jumbo puzzle. The lasercut plywood was hand-painted with an illustrated map of San Francisco. I collaged children’s artworks emerging from the neighborhoods from which they reside. The public was invited to assemble the puzzle.
Recognitions / 认 • 知 was on view at the California College of the Arts Campus Gallery at Blattner Hall, from January 25 to March 17, 2023, in an exhibition that was generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and the Deborah and Kenneth Novack Creative Citizens Program Series. Photos: Josef Jacques.
Thanks to collaborators Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School (EALNS) Grades K-5 after school students at EALNS, 2021–2022 school year; Victor Tam, EALNS Principal; Christine Yan Louie Paz, EALNS Teacher; Yunsi Cecilia Li, EALNS Family Liaison; Jaime Austin, CCA.
Thanks also to Bryndis Hafthorsdottir, Joseph Blake, Katherine Hamilton, Manuel Angeja, and Jane Ou.
Additional thanks to Alix Deane, Cole Chang, Danna Kim, Erina Davidson, Lee Oscar Gomez, Jes Young, and Lindsey Tavares-Sabido. Translation by Lauren Huang.
Exhibition photos by Joseph Jacques. Opening reception photo by Nicholas Lea Bruno. Classroom photo by Jaime Austin. Other photos by Christine Wong Yap.