Vincent Ge-Ming Lia Chong (莊志明) is a queer mixed race Chinese American artist and printmaker. The Chinese side of his family has roots in Chinatown via the Daipang (大鵬) peninsula, and the Italian and English side of his family has roots in Binghamton, NY and outside of London, UK. He has studied Chinese calligraphy and stone seal engraving for about three years now, and he works as a printmaker in NYC. Vincent’s everyday art practice consists of calligraphy studies, watercolor painting, seal carving, etching, and bookmaking.
Vincent's proposal fills the Wing On Wo window with spring couplets (春聯) and a bookshelf displaying the artwork of participants in two residency long workshops—one on Chinese calligraphy, and one on bookbinding and box making. He would like to approach both traditions, from a queer perspective. We often talk about the erasure of queer people and our narratives, but throughout Chinese history we have seen the burning of books and burying of intellectuals since the beginning of the dynastic system. Vincent believes it’s important to address not just the erasure of queer people, but the burning of our narratives and the burying of our lives. Throughout the residency, he wants to focus on reimagining and rewriting narratives to include those people erased from history as a central theme.
Lunar New Year is a time when community members celebrate the welcoming of a prosperous and lucky new year. Storefronts (店面 in Chinese, pronounced diàn miàn in Mandarin and dinmin in Cantonese) hang red banners with new year’s wishes, Chinese lanterns light up the streets, and families gather to watch lion dancers perform. As the oldest operating store in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Wing on Wo & Co. is a center for community gathering that aims to pay tribute to the rich history of its community.
We are passionate about providing space to support generative collaborations between artists and our community. This past year, our 6 month artist residency included a stipend, access to W.O.W's basement studio space, an opening reception, artist talk.
For the third 店面 Residency, we are calling for individual artists or a pair of artistic collaborators to create a window display for the storefront at 26 Mott Street in celebration of the lunar new year and the year of the rat. This is a funded 6-month residency from September1, 2019 - February 31, 2020. There are no restrictions on artists’ mediums, age, nationality, ethnicity, gender, or any other criteria. Visual artists, writers, poets, activists, filmmakers, curators, designers, architects, makers & tinkerers and more are all invited to apply. We only require that applicants be based in the New York area with a preference given to those who currently reside in Chinatown. We strongly encourage members of the Asian diaspora and those with a socially engaged practice to apply.
The 店面 Storefront Residency Offers:
$1,000 artist honorarium
$800 for materials and production
Studio space in Wing on Wo & Co’s basement studio, equipped with silkscreen facilities*
Exhibition space (storefront window) to exhibit proposed project, to be shown Jan 23 - Feb 31, 2020.
Project support from the W.O.W. Project
3 visits from curators and arts professionals, selected by the W.O.W Project in accordance with the artist’s practice
1 Public Program put on
Opening reception party for the unveiling of the window display
Note this residency does not provide housing, meals, or transportation costs.
The deadline for the application is midnight EST on Monday, August 5th. Apply online here. Note that application fees are not required, however we are requesting a suggested donation of USD $25 to support administrative costs for this initiative.
Our jury members for the 3rd 店面 Storefront Residency are Lorraine & Gary Lum & Evan Louis of the Wing on Wo family, Juliet Philips, Tomie Arai, Ryan Wong, Lena Sze, Vincent Chong & Clara Lu. They will review all proposals and notify finalists by the end of August. The selected resident will be announced in early September
*Please note that Wing on Wo & Co is a family business and therefore we are unable to provide unlimited access to the studio space during the 6 month residency period. The schedule will be determined by the selected resident and the Wing on Wo & Co family to accommodate the needs of those involved. Please note that the studio is not wheelchair accessible.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
W.O.W. Shadow Puppet Theater is a community project centered on the question “what do you do to sweep away evil?” From October through January, as the 店面Storefront Artist-in-Residence and alongside Residency Coordinator Clara Lu, I held public programs and workshops in the Wing On Wo studio and Columbus Park, teaching paper cutting and shadow puppetry. Participants made their own puppets and devised short plays based on memories, practices, traditions, or imaginaries about how they sweep away evil. These recorded plays were featured from February through March 2018 as a storefront window installation at Wing on Wo & Co.
In China, I'd seen street sweepers use brooms with different materials in different cities. The only people-led protest I saw was city-employed street sweepers in Chengdu rallying in front of a police station near my apartment. I dream about what it looks like to oust slumlords. I was an adult when I became aware of the significance of sweeping for how Chinese prepare for the new year. The prompt for making W.O.W. Shadow Puppet Theater was "what do you do to sweep away evil?" In the context of mass displacement of housing and culture in Manhattan Chinatown, it is also guided by the questions, "who is this for?" and "who can afford it?" The project's theme comes from a specific action and belief that many new year celebrators have: you should sweep your home and spaces to ward away bad luck/evil spirits of the old year while regenerating and opening space to the good luck of the new year.
SWEEPING AWAY EVIL PANEL
To consider this idea from different and related perspectives, I asked a group of panelists who span several generations what traditions of knowledge and power they use to “sweep away evil.” The panelists Melanie Wang, Fay Bonas, Muriel Miguel, Jes Tom, and Donna Mah discussed how their lives and practices of community organizing, visual arts, theater making, stand-up comedy, and Chinese medicine brought them to confront evils, interpret history, and understand healing.
Thank you to the participants and supporters of this project, which came from many traditions and peoples' efforts.
Emily Mock is an artist making paper cuts and performative works from paper.
She studies and uses the crafts and methods of her cultures and ancestors to explore dynamics of ancestor/diaspora, place/identity/displacement, and how communities build power. She makes paper cuts, develops and facilitates curricula, and organizes cultural programming as an exercise of how culture and heritage are realized in bodies, places, knowledge, and experience. Having lived in the Outer Sunset, Western Massachusetts, Oxford, Chengdu, and NYC, she is interested in how place and identity frame each other, as well as access to ancestral knowledge and crafts.
Originally from San Francisco and currently living in New York City, she is a cultural and community organizer and educator working at CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities as the Chinatown Tenants Union Membership Organizer. She was the Center for Neighborhood Leadership Community Organizing Apprentice for two years at The Laundromat Project. As an educator at the Museum of Chinese in America, Emily gives survey and specialized gallery tours and walks. She holds a BA from Smith College in Art History and Political Science.
Inspired by the youth and elder tenant leaders in Manhattan Chinatown from CAAAV and the Chinatown Tenants Union, Emily is working on a bilingual paper cut book about a diasporic community of color’s fight against gentrification and displacement.
As Wing On Wo.’s inaugural Lunar New Year 店面 Artist in Residence, Melissa Liu created a window installation that was filled with handmade red envelopes (紅包, known as lai see in Cantonese, hong bao in Mandarin) and short-form oral history responses collected from members of Asian Communities in New York City and beyond. In the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year (January 28, 2017), anyone identified with the Asian Diaspora celebrating the Lunar New Year was invited to participate in workshops organized by Melissa in collaboration with The W.O.W. Project, local artists, and community members and groups. Participants had the opportunity to design and make their own red envelopes, in which they placed a question to share with a family member or friend from an older generation and then collected a written response. Participants also received basic training on how to conduct an oral history interview within their community, and had a safe space to discuss issues that Asian communities face in today’s political moment.
In her window display project, which compelled participants to engage in an exchange of questions through shared Lunar New Year traditions, Melissa sparked deeper conversations and moments of empathy between young and older generations that helped bridged intergenerational understanding in Chinatown and Asian American communities and also prompted other Chinatown locals and visitors to consider the importance of the sharing of stories and memories.
CHINATOWN DIASPORA: RED ENVELOPE ORAL HISTORIES; written by Melissa Liu
I have always associated Lunar New Year with Red Envelopes (hong bao in Mandarin, lai see in Cantonese). As a first generation Chinese-American, I would receive them from my parents and grandparents each year, as well as from relatives that occasionally visited my family in Irvine, California. Even in the years when my family was too busy to go out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, my sister and I could still count on receiving our red envelopes, and with that, making calls to relatives. As I approach the age when I will have to give, and not receive, red envelopes, I’ve begun to realize the cultural significance of this tradition. Red envelopes are a vessel for the exchange of goodwill between generations.
In conceptualizing my project Chinatown Diaspora and the “Red Envelope Oral Histories” for my Lunar New Year Window Display residency at W.O.W Project, I wanted to understand what being “Asian American” and “Chinese American” means in the current moment, learn from the different perspectives that exist in the East and Southeast Asian Diaspora, and contribute my work as a social justice advocate and creative practitioner to conversations around these moments. With political events in the past year that have polarized many within Asian communities, oftentimes within families, I’ve wondered how we might hold space for learning and non-confrontational exchange of ideas in the communities that I am part of. Lunar New Year is a time to explore this, as it is a widely celebrated holiday in many Asian countries that centers around families reuniting and reflecting.
I developed this oral history project from the realization that there is often an understanding and cultural gap between older generations who grew up in different circumstances and those of us who have been raised as “Asian Americans.” I am using my artist residency as an opportunity to empower myself and my peers to have meaningful dialogue with our families and older community members in the hope of bridging this gap, while also giving ourselves agency to tell our own stories and define what being Asian means. Oral history is a practice rooted in listening and privileging a narrator in a conversation, and therefore a tool that lends itself naturally to this work.
Through the workshops and conversations I’ve held over the past month, I am conducting oral histories while offering basic training to participants in the hopes that they will be empowered to speak to those within their families and communities, which will lead to moments of empathy that help bridge intergenerational understanding. My longterm goal is for those who have been part of this project to continue creating safe spaces to discuss issues that Asian communities have confronted in the past and face in today’s political moment. The window display at Wing On Wo & Co. is a place to share what has come out of a series of oral history workshops I have held with participants who identify with the Asian Diaspora.
Though red envelopes containing money are passed from those of married age and older to younger generations, I have encouraged participants to reverse this exchange by giving their handmade red envelopes to someone from an older generation in their family or community. But rather than money, the red envelope will be exchanged with a question, opening up an opportunity for a conversation to happen.
MORE ABOUT CHINATOWN DIASPORA
Chinatown Diaspora is a collaborative and ongoing project that comes from the idea that “Chinatowns” have existed throughout the world as centers for Asian immigrants to come together in the absence of their home country. In addition to immigrants from provinces throughout China, chinatowns include those from other Asian countries—such as Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. However, children of immigrants often leave these communities with no intention of returning. Chinatown Diaspora explores and unpacks the stories of immigrants who have left their ancestral country, and generations beyond who have left the Chinatown in their new home.
Melissa Liu 劉慧慈 is a cultural worker, activist, oral historian, and social sculptor, and a first-generation Chinese American. Melissa has worked as an arts administrator in Los Angeles, Paris, and New York with institutions and organizations such as The Laundromat Project, Columbia University School of the Arts, Hammer Museum, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Terra Foundation for American Art, and The Getty Foundation. She has organized and facilitated workshops for the College Art Association and Kelly Street Garden Bronx, and was part of Arts & Labor and its Alternative Economies working group. She is currently part of the working board of Museum Hue, and a longtime advocate for better representation of communities of color in cultural institutions. As a social sculptor and oral historian, Melissa explores culture, cuisine, identity, and place in the Asian Diaspora through cooking, writing, artmaking.