It's been an amazing three years since we first began collaborating on HERE TO STAY, a community workshop and public projection series with members of the Chinatown Tenants Union of CAAAV, sharing reflections and experiences grounded in the community we've all been involved with for years. Please visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, and stay tuned for an updated website, led by the talented Liz Moy.
After a series of meetings and conversations, our first collaborative project as Chinatown Art Brigade is born. HERE TO STAY was a yearlong community art project that featured a series of large-scale outdoor mobile projections addressing issues of gentrification, displacement and community resilience in Manhattan's Chinatown. Artwork based on oral histories, walking tours, community mapping, and photographs created in community-led workshops were projected onto buildings and public landmarks in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. (Photos: Louis Chan, KahEan Chang)
Later that year, we filmed an oral history interview at Wing On Wo & Co, with the original owners of Pearl River Mart for our artist installation at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s CTRL+ALT Culture Lab, held at the former Pearl River Mart SoHo location. The full interview is archived at the Museum of Chinese in America, New York. Many thanks to the Chen family and the Wing On Wo & Co. family.
We held our second projection event in Chinatown during the Spring, and later that Fall, organized two days of actions to call out a racist gallery installation at James Cohan gallery on Grand Street, Chinatown. (Photos: Louis Chan, KahEan Chang)
Members of the brigade updated our pledge to hold galleries accountable, calling attention to the 100+ galleries that have appeared throughout Chinatown over the past decade. Gallery map as of 2016 was designed by brigade member Liz Moy.
Thanks to Tomie Arai and the Asian Arts Initiative, Chinatown Art Brigade was invited to Philadelphia to work with Asian Americans United, VietLead, and national youth organizers from Grassroots Asians Rising on a series of public projections in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Projection messages called attention to present-day immigration policies and condemned family separations. (Photos by Asian Americans United, Tomie Arai, Asian Arts Initiative (Jino Lee, Phil Cho, Ashley Lê).
CHINATOWN ART BRIGADE
In 2015, artists Tomie Arai, ManSee Kong and Betty Yu formed the Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB), a cultural collective that recognizes the power of art to advance social justice. As cultural workers and media makers, our projects are rooted in activism and movement-building work. Currently, Chinatown Art Brigade is a project-driven collective that is working in close collaboration with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities’ Chinatown Tenants Union, a grassroots organization that organizes low-income pan-Asian communities around tenant rights, fighting evictions and community empowerment. Our work is driven by the fundamental belief that collaboration with and accountability to communities that are directly impacted by racial, social and economic inequities must be central to our creative process.
Many thanks to the A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art, Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation's Art & Social Justice initiative for Public Art (granted to CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Creative Engagement program, Asian Women Giving Circle, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Asian Arts Initiative, Culture Push, Fourth Arts Block, and the Laundromat Project for supporting our various projects. Please visit the Chinatown Art Brigade website for more details about our work.