"Seven Nations Cake, with arak liqueur from Iraq, hawash spice blend for Somalia, mastic from Yemen, qamar al-deen (apricot leather) from Syria, Shamshiri tea from Iran, dates for Libya, and sorghum for Sudan. With honey for sweetness and rose petals for a warm welcome home." // Source: Instagram @protestcake
Citizenship

Points of Reference: Resistance Day 16: Cakes, Spells, Dance, and Multi-Centeredness

It’s hard to keep up—much less synthesize—current events, so here is a collection of ideas that have been resonating with me… None more than this:

“No one action will be adequate. All actions will be necessary.”

—Jon Stewart as quoted by Dave Itzkoff, “Jon Stewart Savages Trump: ‘Purposeful, Vindictive Chaos,’” New York Times, February 1, 2017. (Please read in full, in fairness to comedic craft.)

 

Note to self: If I question the value of individual acts of resistance, remember that more is more.

Case in point: The #nobannowall opposition—protestors’ and lawyers’ rapid response at airports, the ACLU’s legal cases, the Brooklyn judge’s emergency order, the win achieved by Washington State’s Attorney General, and the strike self-organized by 1,000 NYC Yemeni bodega owners. (Side note: If self-employed, precarious bodega owners can demonstrate such a unified show of force, when will artists? Why were strikers in the #J20 art strike dispersed among art-world institutions?)

Protest Cakes’ Seven Nations Cake, distributed in last night’s #nobannowall protest at San Francisco City Hall.

"Seven Nations Cake, with arak liqueur from Iraq, hawash spice blend for Somalia, mastic from Yemen, qamar al-deen (apricot leather) from Syria, Shamshiri tea from Iran, dates for Libya, and sorghum for Sudan. With honey for sweetness and rose petals for a warm welcome home." // Source: Instagram @protestcake

“Seven Nations Cake, with arak liqueur from Iraq, hawash spice blend for Somalia, mastic from Yemen, qamar al-deen (apricot leather) from Syria, Shamshiri tea from Iran, dates for Libya, and sorghum for Sudan. With honey for sweetness and rose petals for a warm welcome home.” // Source: Instagram @protestcake.

Illustrator and comic book artist Yumi Sakugawa‘s recent drawing/meditation:

"Intersectional, intergenerational, intergalactic, international, interconnection. Even if it takes years, decades, centuries-- any unit of time beyond my lifetime and my theoretical grandchildren's lifetime-- I believe in action, I believe in compassion, I believe in a plane of existence where peace is the default and not the exception. Do what you can to show up. Every gesture matters." Source: Instagram: @YumiSakagawa.

“Intersectional, intergenerational, intergalactic, international, interconnection. Even if it takes years, decades, centuries– any unit of time beyond my lifetime and my theoretical grandchildren’s lifetime– I believe in action, I believe in compassion, I believe in a plane of existence where peace is the default and not the exception. Do what you can to show up. Every gesture matters.” Source: Instagram: @YumiSakagawa.

Victoria Graham’s projects about casting spells:

Jenifer k Wofford’s NO SCRUBS intervention: joy in the face of repression, cultural workers making revolution irresistible, with women of color to the front.

"NO SCRUBS was a boisterous, fun dance brigade that injected playfulness into the SF and Oakland Women's Marches. Their focused energy was fueled by fun, feisty tunes by women of color and quirky protest signs." Organized by Jenifer k Wofford. // Source: Instagram @100DaysAction

“NO SCRUBS was a boisterous, fun dance brigade that injected playfulness into the SF and Oakland Women’s Marches. Their focused energy was fueled by fun, feisty tunes by women of color and quirky protest signs.” Organized by Jenifer k Wofford. // Source: Instagram @100DaysAction

Krista Tippett: “A cynic would say, ‘…they’re just drops in the ocean.’”

Larry Ward, dharma teacher and Baptist minister:

“That is true. I am a drop in the ocean, but I’m also the ocean. I’m a drop in America, but I’m also America.”

—From “Being Peace in a World of Trauma,” On Being, July 14, 2016.

 


Reflections on immigration, racial identity, and place

My mom's Chinese New Year's preparations this year included tamarind, which she used to eat fresh from a neighborhood tree in Vietnam.

My mom’s Chinese New Year’s preparations. Citrus and lettuce represent wishes for prosperity. Tamarind is not a traditional offering, but my mom likes it because there was a tamarind tree near her home in Vietnam. In Chinese, pink is considered light red, the color of luck.

Wall text from "Land of Opportunity" at the San Mateo History Museum, Redwood City, CA.

Wall text from “Land of Opportunity” at the San Mateo History Museum, Redwood City, CA.

I flew back to the Bay Area to visit family. The next day, Lunar New Year, the Muslim ban, and the gravity of DJT’s reckless nationalism began.

I watched videos of protests at SFO and JFK as my mom happily arranged Chinese New Year’s offerings for peace and prosperity. It was surreal to think that my parents—who came to the US to escape war and fear of persecution in Vietnam and mainland China—might not be welcomed today.

I didn’t do anything to earn citizenship. I was granted citizenship because I was born here—a simple quirk at the complex nexus of my parent’s tremendous sacrifices and generations of people who fought for equality. When I think about how hard immigrants have to work to become naturalized, it makes me want to be deserving of citizenship. Engaging as an active citizen seems a small price.

At the San Mateo History Museum, I saw register books for “enemy aliens”—Japanese, German and Italian Americans. I thought about how such xenophobic, unconstitutional acts seemed like relics of the past not too long ago, but could be seen as part of a racist continuum now (and indeed have been cited as legal precedents).

My past internalized racism also came to light. A a youth I disdained the peninsula and the South Bay; I thought they were boring and lacked culture and worldliness. But I looked at things differently as I drove around San Mateo and visited a pan-Southeast Asian Buddhist temple in San Jose. While the region may be short on high or alternative cultures, its unfussy integration of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures into suburbia with mid-century vernacular architecture and design, is specific and kind of wonderful.

It renews my gratitude to call  both the San Francisco Bay Area and Queens home. What I love most about the two are their richness of cultural diversity and the simpatico afforded by progressivism and tolerance. I don’t feel split or unrooted. I feel “multi-centered.” Is that such an odd proposition? My mom is shaped by three countries—the one of her heritage, the one where she was raised, and the one she emigrated to.

I just started reading Lucy Lippard’s The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society (1997). The idea of belonging to a place, and at the same time, to an interconnected world, seems especially meaningful.


Notes for forward movement

Some tidbits of creative inspiration:

  • The lion dance is said to have originated when villagers were tormented by a monster, so in defense they sewed a costume and choreographed a dance. Their united power scared the monster away.
  • 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. The rooster is in charge of time and starting a new day.

Positive psychology researcher Shane Lopez’s Hope Map exercise is a set of instructions to identify goals, pathways, obstacles, and methods (in other words, ways and means) of overcoming obstacles. Follow this link and click “Show Mapping Out Hope.”

[I’ve been holding on to this one because it’s like a make things (happen) activity waiting to happen, if presented as visually-oriented handout for download. But it seems worth sharing now; the time is ripe for planning and self-determined goals.]

L-R: (1) My assumed schema. (2) Kevin's described schema. (3) A proposed revision.

L-R: (1) My assumed schema. (2) Kevin’s described schema. (3) A proposed revision.

I liked how Kevin Chen recently described five areas of life (figure 2): a romantic relationship, friendships, family, practice, and job(s). In this schema, “productivity” accounts for only two-fifths of life, and relationships account for a majority.

I realized that I’d held a three-part schema (figure 1): work, practice, and personal life. This short-changed other people and explained why I always felt like I was failing someone.

I suppose I might add two more “houses” to a revised schema (figure 3): “me-time” and citizenship/civic engagement. This might be a temporary mode for the next few years, that incorporates both activism and self-care. In this case, people still occupy the majority.

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Sights

get excited: mail order brides

My good friend Jenifer K Wofford and her collaborators Eliza and Reanne are up to their high art hijinks again.

Mail Order Brides (M.O.B.)
 Still from Fiebre Amarilla V, 2011
 Courtesy the artists // San Jose Museum of Art, sjmusart.org

Mail Order Brides (M.O.B.)

Still from Fiebre Amarilla V, 2011

Courtesy the artists // San Jose Museum of Art, sjmusart.org

February 21–September 15, 2013
New Stories from the Edge of Asia: This/That
San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA

These artists take on identity issues (and Asian identity in particular) by creating narratives that often are born from loosely autobiographical, conflicting situations. In video, film, multimedia works, photographs, and performance art, they conjure temporary identities that reflect the constant struggle, negotiation, and precarious balance between different worlds. The exhibition includes works by Erica Cho, Mike Lai, Candice Lin, the artists’ collective Mail Order Brides (M.O.B.) (Eliza Barrios, Reanne Estrada, and Jenifer Wofford), and T. Kim-Trang. “New Stories from the Edge of Asia” is an ongoing exhibition series that presents work by artists from Pacific Rim countries and cultures who explore new narrative territory using animation, digital techniques, video, and film.

Have a look at M.O.B’s Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride services to get a sneak peek at what you might see.

If you’re in SF and Oakland and planning on making the trek down to the South Bay, I’d like to offer this gentle reminder: Happiness Is… is on through April 14 at Montalvo Arts Center Project Space Gallery in Saratoga.

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Meta-Practice, Projects, Research

Should I Stay or Should I Go? on Art Practical

Art Practical, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Christine Wong Yap

My feature on artists staying or leaving the Bay Area is finally out in the current issue of Art Practical. Thanks to the interviewed artists—Michael Arcega, Pablo Guardiola, Stephanie Syjuco, Emma Spertus, and Jenifer Wofford—for their time and insight. And a deep bow to Editor-in-Chief Patricia Maloney, Copy Editor Victoria Gannon and the rest of the Art Practical team for their support and guidance!

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Feature story published on
Art Practical, Issue 2.10

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This & That Mail Art Swap

Welcome to This & That

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I’m pleased to announce a new curatorial project, This & That, an invitational mail art swap among international artists. Initiated in July 2009, This & That is a grassroots exchange by artists for artists.

32 artists/collaboratives are from 7 countries are participating:

Poklong Anading (Manila)
Chris Bell (Austrailia/San Francisco)
Simon Blackmore (Manchester)
Simon & Tom Bloor (Birmingham/London)
Jon Brumit (Chicago)
Michelle Carollo (NYC)
Mike Chavez-Dawson (Manchester)
Susan Chen (San Francisco)
Joshua Churchill (San Francisco)
Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson (Berlin/Manchester)
N. Sean Glover (Pittsburg, Penn., USA)
Mary Griffiths (Manchester)
Antony Hall (Manchester)
Taro Hattori (Oakland, Calif., USA)
Eric Hongisto (San Francisco)
Sarah Kabot (Ohio, USA)
Scot Kaplan (Ohio, USA)
Verity-Jane Keefe (London)
Yuen Fong Ling (Manchester)
Ivy Ma (Hong Kong)
David Moises (Vienna)
Ali Naschke-Messing (San Francisco)
Scott Oliver (Oakland, Calif., USA)
Susan O’Malley (San Francisco)
Laurence Payot (Liverpool)
Pest (Rebecca Chesney, Robina Llewellyn & Elaine Speight) (Preston, Lancs, UK)
Anthony Ryan (San Francisco)
David Sherry (Glasgow)
Daniel Staincliffe (Manchester)
Tattfoo Tan (NYC)
Jenifer K. Wofford (Oakland/Prague)
MM Yu (Manila)

Submissions will be exhibited in “Socially, Involved,” an exhibition at curated by Michelle Blade, at Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco, California, USA from August 7–September 6, 2009.

See the entries at exhibition, or at the opening reception — Friday, August 7, 7-10 pm — or check mailartswap.christinewongyap.com.

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Community

art on Mrkt St

Jenifer Wofford, artist, teacher, friend and Galleon Trade mastermind, is gracing Market Street with Flor de Manila y San Francisco, a new graphic novel, with help from the SF Arts Commission. The preview photos look great! So nice to see public art relevant to the area. Can’t wait to see them in person. Here’s a sample!

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