San Francisco, CA—Friday, January 13, 2023—California College of the Arts (CCA) is pleased to announce the opening of the Campus Gallery in Blattner Hall and the inaugural show Recognitions / 认 • 知, a solo exhibition by Christine Wong Yap (BFA Printmaking 1998, MFA Printmaking 2007), a CCA alum and 2022 Creative Citizenship Fellow. The exhibition features three new projects on the topic of belonging that mark the culmination of a collaborative social practice project between Christine and the Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School (EALNS)—a public, one-year, language immersion elementary school in San Francisco’s Chinatown, serving Chinese-speaking recent immigrants.
Recognitions / 认 • 知 integrates artworks by elementary school students with maps, drawing, calligraphy, and sewing—characteristics of Christine’s hybrid work as a social practitioner and visual artist. The exhibition builds upon Christine’s participatory research projects exploring belonging, which she recognizes as a fundamental human need that correlates with connection, vulnerability, authenticity, and growth while also acknowledging that belonging can be an indicator of the inclusion and equity of institutions and systems.
“Christine’s consistent execution of art centered on civic and community engagement makes this the perfect inaugural exhibition for CCA’s new Campus Gallery, which aims to be very much connected to the wider San Francisco community,” says Jaime Austin, director of Exhibitions and Public Programming at CCA. “Her project shows how art can be a tool of belonging by exploring stories of immigration and resilience, and connecting San Franciscans—both new arrivals and longtime residents—together.”
To explore the concept of belonging with students at EALNS, Christine crafted prompts for K–5 students that were presented in a series of in-person, hands-on workshops at an after school program, including: What does “home” mean to you? What’s something you miss about your country of origin? What’s something you love about living in California? What is a positive adjective you would use to describe yourself? These questions offer the opportunity to reflect upon and share their feelings about migration and their adjustment to San Francisco, while reinforcing the social-emotional learning focus of EALNS, which is distinct from the rote learning method more commonly found in schools in China.
“Moving is a stressful life event,” says Christine Wong Yap. “In addition to the stress of moving, the EALNS students migrated to a new country as English-language learners during a pandemic amidst rising anti-Asian sentiment. By recognizing these children, their stories and artworks, and the validity of their feelings, this exhibition attempts to welcome them and their fellow newcomers to San Francisco and shine a light on their journeys toward belonging.”
The work in the exhibition reflects Christine’s multidisciplinary practice, in which she translates student ideas and creativity into something new. For many students, traveling on an airplane was the defining moment of their migration. They noted flying was exciting, scary, boring, and sometimes nauseating or painful. Christine reinterpreted the students’ drawings of airplanes as three-dimensional stuffed plushies. While the students typically had little control over their parents’ and guardians’ decisions to migrate, they could commemorate the transpacific journey that shaped who they are now in comforting, tactile toys.
Visitors can also view—and interact with—an oversized, hand-painted puzzle depicting a map of San Francisco, populated with artworks by EALNS students. Family portraits and butterfly drawings appear in the neighborhoods where the students live. This map conveys the breadth of this particular diaspora of Chinese residents in this profoundly expensive metropolis: While some students live in Chinatown, the Inner Richmond, or the Outer Sunset, many live in Southeast San Francisco, in the Portola or Visitacion Valley neighborhoods. The puzzle is an interactive centerpiece to the exhibition, encouraging a sense of welcome and play among gallery visitors. Participants are invited to sit on pillows or a carpet and assemble the puzzle.
Finally, Christine added calligraphy to students’ self-portraits, which are also on display. Referencing the historical tradition of illuminating manuscripts by adding hand painted illustrations and flourishes, these illuminations convey the students’ perspectives on what they miss about life in China and what they love about life in California. Collectively, these drawings form a community snapshot of young newcomers’ longings and joys.
This exhibition is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Grants for the Arts, and the Deborah and Kenneth Novack Creative Citizens Program Series.
Exhibition materials are available in English and Simplified Chinese.
About the Campus Gallery in Blattner Hall
CCA’s exhibition and presentation space, the Campus Gallery in Blattner Hall, is a new venue for showcasing the work of CCA students, faculty, alumni, and visiting artists in the heart of San Francisco’s design district. Located on the ground floor of Blattner Hall, the Gallery is accessible to the wider CCA community and surrounding neighborhood in Potrero Hill. Situated near world-renowned galleries and exhibition spaces, it also serves as a community hub, connecting contemporary art and ideas with local visitors and community members. The Campus Gallery features 1300 feet of exhibition space, making room for a wide-range of cutting-edge, exciting, interdisciplinary work, inviting visitors to see and experience something new each visit.
CCA Campus Gallery
1480 17th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
The CCA Campus Gallery is wheelchair accessible. Please email accessibility questions to [email protected].
Gallery hours: Wednesday 11am–7 pm, Thursday–Friday 11 am–4 pm, and by appointment.
Free and open to the public.
About California College of the Arts
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) educates students to shape culture and society through the practice and critical study of art, architecture, design, and writing. Benefitting from its San Francisco Bay Area location, the college prepares students for lifelong creative work by cultivating innovation, community engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.
CCA’s 23,000 alumni and 500 faculty receive top honors in their fields, including Academy Awards, Rhodes Scholarships, Fulbright Scholarships, Emmy Awards, the Ordway Prize, the Rome Prize, MacArthur Fellowships, AIGA Medals, and the National Medal of Arts. Graduates are highly sought after by companies such as Pixar/Disney, Apple, Intel, Facebook, Gensler, Google, IDEO, Autodesk, Mattel, and Nike, and many launch their own businesses. Alumni work is featured in prominent museums including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MoMA New York, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, SFMOMA, and Tate Modern.
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