Thursday, November 6, 2014

Passion, Pt. II

An announcement tied to the previous post:

This winter, I’m going to start creating my own children’s books. It’ll be a return to my roots; as detailed in the essay here, I used to write and illustrate stories all the time as a kid. (For me, this is the ultimate Throwback Thursday!) I have a ton of ideas already, and many of them will be based on my own life and the lives of my friends; you don’t often see a whole lot of people who look like us and do the things we do represented in children’s books. At least, I didn’t. So get excited! And if you know a thing or two about publishing picture books, let me know!

(And on a somewhat related note: Who else is completely against Pixar making Toy Story 4? Those movies were perfect as a trilogy.)


Last night I published my first piece on Medium, “How to write your way into the Ivy League: Tips for crafting a winning college essay, featuring an example that worked.” Although it’s framed by writing advice, the essay itself underlines my lifelong love affair with art and explains one of the most asked-about lines in my bio, so I’ll cross-post the article below, after the jump:

Columbia University.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Revolution Will Be Shared Online

As I type this in a part of the world where people are debating the legitimacy of pumpkin spice lattes (they’re nasty—you’re welcome), teen activists are waking up on highways in Hong Kong. The fifth day of the Occupy Central pro-democracy protests has begun. There, it’s the morning of October 1 (time zones? time travel) and mainland China’s National Day, which could spell a turning point for the Umbrella Revolution.

The protests hit close to home. Literally. You can read about my ties to H.K. in “King of Kowloon” and “Pearl,” but, in a nutshell (and in my bio), I am the American-born only child of Hong Kong immigrants. I often wonder what my life would be like—what I would be like—if my parents didn’t have to come to the U.S. (Perhaps I often hear Hong Kong calling to me because, in an infinite expanse of parallel universes, I am already there.)

One of my uncles in Hong Kong is a former schoolteacher. My cousins there are all students, much like the young revolutionaries galvanizing the movement. When I look at photos and watch videos of the protestors, I see brothers and sisters. I see myself.

Unsurprisingly, artists have been creating a lot of powerful images (a few of my favorites embedded above). Revolution inspires art, and art inspires revolution.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Press your space face close to mine, love

Jessica Stockholder, Once Upon a Time,
Kavi Gupta Gallery. Expo Chicago 2014.

Happy last day of summer! (To the Southern Hemisphere-rs, happy almost-spring!) But tomorrow isn’t just the autumnal equinox; it’s also David Bowie Day in Chicago. (Seriously.)

Bodysuit by Kansai Yamamoto, worn on tour.
David Bowie Is, Museum of Contemporary Art

Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, returned for its third year this past weekend, and the internationally touring David Bowie Is exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago tomorrow. I had the pleasure of previewing both.

The pivotal performance of "Starman" on Top of the Pops.
David Bowie Is, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

As previously implied, I’m a big Bowie fan. And that’s an understatement. Like, I’m not much of a jewelry person, but I wore a Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane necklace every. single. day from 2010-2012 (until I accidentally broke it—pictured further down in this post is the pendant); I have a Goblin King prayer candle (yeah…); etc. And last Friday, I got to be one of the first to see David Bowie Is in the U.S. (Insert weeping / raised hands in exultation emojis here.)

"Life on Mars?" David Bowie Is, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

What impressed me most was the show’s synthesis of art and technology. Before entering, you’re given headphones and a receiver. The exhibit contains 25 “display zones,” each of which has its own audio stream broadcast through transmitters that are mapped to the exhibit’s floor plan. Once you walk towards a different display, the corresponding audio stream activates. A brilliant way to avoid sound bleed, it’s in keeping with Bowie’s own embrace of cutting edge technology.

Yep, brought [part of] my Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane necklace.
David Bowie Is, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

The exhibition is a celebration of creativity, of creation. It’s a fully immersive experience. That’s art.

Knitted catsuit by Kansai Yamamoto, worn on tour.
David Bowie Is, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

David Bowie Is opens at the MCA tomorrow, September 23, and will be up through January 4, 2015. More of my photos from Expo Art Week can be viewed on Instagram.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Art Decade

This week sees the return of Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, and, by extension, Expo Art Week. (You can read my interviews with Expo’s President and Director, Tony Karman, here, here, and here.) Before they open to the public, I’ll get to preview the fair and other shows, including the highly anticipated David Bowie Is exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago—and when I say “highly anticipated” I mean by me, at the very least (what, I haven’t been counting down for the past year and month and a half I tell you while blasting “The Width of a Circle” on repeat)—so follow along on Instagram and Twitterwhere Ill be sharing my highlights as I did with Art Basel Hong Kong.

Model of Studio Gang Architects' installations for Expo Chicago 2014.
(Image courtesy of Exposition Chicago.)

The fall art season is upon us!

[Edited to add: And congratulations to the Art Institute of Chicago for being voted “#1 Museum in the World” on TripAdvisor!]

Monday, August 25, 2014

From sea to shining sea

All 401 of America’s national parks are free today! (Happy 98th birthday, National Park Service. And hi, fellow August baby.) Among my favorites are Yellowstone, Yosemite, Denali, and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

At world's end. Sleeping Bear Dunes, 2008.

And on to a very different aspect of America: Ferguson, Missouri, has been on my mind and in my heart. In addition to joining the conversation online (on Twitter, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is a salient one, and, as a springboard, here’s a tweet of mine expressing Asian-American solidarity with the people of Ferguson), fellow Chicagoans can more tangibly help out by participating in a “Youth Sound-Off and Supply Drive: Justice for Mike Brown, Ferguson, and Us All” event this week.

So where does art fall into all of this? We’ve had some fruitful discussions on the role of art before. On the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s blog, Abraham Ritchie writes:

Artworks become objects of emotion, contemplation, and reflection, seen in the songs, poems, and images people are posting to the Web. Some works seem to presage events; others are poignant reminders of how much work we have left to do as citizens and human beings. [...] These artworks do not have the answers to the massive societal problems we face; instead they challenge us to face them, to discuss them, and to work to solve them.

Let’s work together.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A brand of magic

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. Thank you for the childhood memories, including bringing to life one of my favorite characters of all time.

You were magical.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

This is not a pipe

I was featured on yesterday’s RedEye. Thanks, Jessica Galliart! (Here’s the original photo. Photoception.)

Illinois residents: The Art Institute of Chicago is free Thursday evenings! (Gotta love free museum days.)

"This is a sculpture?" -Dad.

And something I learned (or, at least, was happily reminded of) this past week: We are all really weird.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Thursday night. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To the other panelists of “Writing in the Margins”—Sophia Nahli Allison, Olivia Cole, Felicia Holman, and Diana Pando—for being so inspiring. To Tempestt Hazel, Jennifer Patiño Cervantes, and Reuben Westmaas of Sixty Inches From Center for organizing it all. To everyone who came and sat in the audience and took notes throughout the discussion and had brilliant things to say themselves. Also hey thanks childhood hero R.L. Stine for replying to me on Twitter after I told you I name-dropped you during the panel I can die happy and haunt a house now.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Get Your Kicks

Sixty Inches From Center’s “Dialogue: Writing in the Margins” event is this Thursday, 6-8pm. Come! It’ll be my first time on a panel and I’d love to see your beautiful faces in the audience.

Illinois residents: The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is free every Tuesday! Spend a summer evening on their terrace with some live jazz.

Obligatory MCA spiral staircase shot.
And congrats to Germany for winning the World Cup! Fact: Exactly 10 years ago, I was living in Germany. (In high school, thanks to an übernerd program I was in, I got to be a part of a foreign exchange, spending 3 weeks in Hamburg and 1 week frolicking all over the south.)

Atop the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain,
summer 2004.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Writing in the Margins

Image via Sixty Inches From Center.

I’ve been invited to speak on a panel about building platforms for artists who are traditionally marginalized, happening July 17. Thanks, Sixty Inches From Center!

Happy 4th, ‘murricans!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

State of Mind

Manhattan from the plane.

Coming back to New York for Columbia’s reunion weekend just felt like coming back to college from a [really, really] long summer break. NY, forever my home away from home.

Washington Square Park from the World Science Festival.

More photos from my visit on Instagram. (If you scroll a little, you’ll find all my photos from Hong Kong. To read more about that trip, check out the post “Pearl.”)

Alma Mater.

Enjoy your day!

Olaf Breuning, Clouds installation in Central Park.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Columbia University, Commencement 2009.

New York City, I’m coming back to you. Chicago, see you next week. (When I’m not attending my 5-year college reunion, I’ll be checking out as much art as I can. As with my Hong Kong trip, feel free to follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.)

Some light reading:

  • I and Dreams of a City were featured on Hyperallergic. Thanks, Hyper! (Update to what I said in the article: I do have a smartphone now. Important, I know.)

Manhattanhenge tonight!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


You know you’ve just flown in from Hong Kong when it’s 85ºF and it feels nice and cool.

Chicago, I’m home for a week. Then it’s off to New York. Using this time to visit my parents, power through jet lag, and catch up on things from the past couple weeks, e.g., watch the Interstellar trailer ten times in a row, half of which I pretend it’s a sequel to Contact.

Victoria Harbour as seen from Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.
My highlights from the second annual Art Basel Hong Kong, as well as other photos I took throughout my trip, can be viewed here on Instagram.

Rebecca Baumann, Automated Colour Field,
Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.

Hong Kong, of course, was and is so much more than Basel. This is, after all, where my roots lie.

Hong Kong, the city that gives new meaning to the phrase
"urban jungle."

My family’s history mirrors that of Hong Kong: My grandparents were refugees from the Mainland, escaping the Communists in 1949. When their squatter hut burned down in the shantytown fire of 1953, which left over 50,000 people homeless, they resettled in the Shek Kip Mei public housing projects, Hong Kong’s first public housing estate and where my dad and his three younger brothers were born and raised (I wrote about what life was like there in this post). My dad—while still a kid from the hood—got into and graduated from the University of Hong Kong (and later immigrated to the United States and earned a master’s at the University of Chicago). And now the sole American-born child of the Lam clan, with a not-bad track record of her own, receives invitations to return to her motherland every year and attend the world’s premier Modern and contemporary art event as a VIP. Cue “Circle of Life.” (And me holding up this puppy to an enraptured audience of Sub-Saharan animals?)

Spent my last full day in Hong Kong relaxing here, by the sea,
with my grandma. What a long way the Lamily has come.

Whether it’s visiting the Mei Ho House, the last remaining—and newly “revitalized”—building of the Shek Kip Mei slums (I asked my uncles to bring the only photos they have from their childhood for comparisons); or imbibing free bottomless booze at a sweaty party in a parking garage in the industrial district of Chai Wan on the outskirts of the city with friends old and new while dancing to a live Chinese rock band (whose female lead singer, who wore Pink Floyd tights, we gave sips from a bottle of vodka we may or may not have taken from the bar) and, before that, watching dancers follow a set of instructions that included, among many other things, screaming audience members’ names, hiding in boxes, doing a routine to a Rihanna and Beyoncé medley, and fisting themselves in their mouths; or looking at art…

I love this place. 

Have a great week, everyone.

Monday, May 5, 2014

That Time of Year

Bye, Chicago.
Been here a hundred times. Never gets old.

Hi, Hong Kong!

Neither does this.

I’ll be sharing photos on Instagram as well as updating Twitter and Facebook. Follow along!

In the meantime, if you’re around Batavia, Illinois, check out the exhibition I juried at Water Street Studios.

Chicago, I’ll be back in a few weeks. Albeit briefly. Then it’s off to New York!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Forever Golden

Brooks Golden in front of his mural on 16th & Paulina.
(Photo via Brooks' Facebook.)

Rest in peace, Brooks. The Chicago art community truly was and is golden thanks to you.

(More after the jump.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dig Yourself

“This show is creepy.” –apparently said by a troop of Boy Scouts who toured the exhibition I juried.

Photo by Brian DeWolf.

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening reception of Water Street Studios’ spring show Friday night, and thanks to WSS for inviting me to be the guest juror and for so readily welcoming me into their family! I had so much fun.

Photo by Brian DeWolf.

The Beacon-News did a write-up, and I’ve added the link to the Press page.

Photo by Brian DeWolf.

WSS’ site has a few more photos of the exhibition (and here’s a candid of me listening to my introduction before I announced the Honorable Mentions and Best of Show), which runs through June 28—plenty of time to go see it if you missed the opening!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...