Tuesday, November 6, 2018

“I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide” [hopefully]

Specifically, a #BlueWave.

(Yes, the title’s another Gandalf quote, although this wording is from The Two Towers film instead of the book. Consider it a callback to this Fellowship of the Ring one—my favorite—from my first post- Election 2016 blog post, which I’ve been revisiting a lot lately.)

I’d like to apologize yet again for the lack of posts here. But I’m back. Only to be gone again, oops (more on that later). And, my fellow Americans, I’m telling you:

#VoteThemOut #SwingLeft #TakeBackTheHouse #Resist

Vote! I voted early a couple weeks ago, like I did in ‘16. (For the Chicagoans reading this, the folks working at the Loop Super Site were super friendly and helpful.) These midterm elections are crucial. My 10-year-old self at the Illinois State Capitol is roaring through the fabric of space and time to encourage you. And, in addition to my favorite quote linked above, I’ve been reminding myself of these words of wisdom from Angela Davis, which I’d included in my 2016 review, “Hope.”

And to serve as even more motivation, here’s another relic from 2016: my episode of Transition to Power, a political documentary by On the Real Film about the presidential election through artists’ eyes.

As for what I’ve been up to (and—more importantly—all the art I’ve experienced and seen, from my highlights and picks to my… strong opinions [and exposés] on other things) between now and the previous post (from July, I know!), I’m afraid you’ll have to scroll through my social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. My photo captions tend to be long by those formats’ standards but serve as micro blog posts in a way; read them!

And what I meant by leaving again: I’m flying out of the country today; after a pit stop in Hong Kong to visit my dad’s side of the family, I’ll be traveling in Taiwan for the first time! (It’s hard to believe that the Silk Road in Western China was a year ago.) See you later, America; make it so that I return to good news and a better you!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


I was one of the guest judges for Line Dot Editions’ open call summer group show, Hot Fun in the Summertime (this was the voting process), and it opens July 19! Come! It’s free, and all the exhibiting artists are based in Chicago and/or the Midwest; support local artists!

This photo cracks me and my parents up. Read why--and
learn more about this young monk who guided us through
Labrang Monastery, Xiahe, Gansu, China--here.

My Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month exhibit at the West Chicago Avenue Branch of the Chicago Public Library may be over, but 1) you can view those [and more of my] Silk Road photos online here and here; and 2) you should still go and explore Austin and see that the neighborhood is more than how it’s portrayed in the news.

(On the subject of my Silk Road photos, this traveling monk knew the monk who guided my parents and me at Labrang Monastery and found and commented on my photo of him yesterday! What a world.)

Spotted in my neighborhood yesterday: "The only ICE we like" by
CHema Skandal. (Also, spot the Dreams of a City postcard.)

Apologies for the lack of posts these past couple months; for the first time in 7 years, I moved! (3 blocks away from my old apartment, but still.) And this was the first thing I did in my new place. A quick round-up of some other stuff I’ve been up to that I haven’t mentioned yet: being Chinese; becoming a founding member of Block Club Chicago (support local journalism!); reminding (or educating), finding inspiration and strength; inadvertently bringing joy to a personal source of inspiration and strength; going on interactive art tours; pouring one out for Quenchers Saloon, the venue where I publicly shared, for the first time, some of the postcards from Dreams of a City; looking back at the Zeitgeist of 20 years ago through a kid’s eyes; [re-]telling my family’s refugee story; having sweet encounters at Target; and live-tweeting Westworld and getting in my feelings.

Happy summer! Read Outside Season has begun.

Monday, May 7, 2018

On Air

I got interviewed by WBEZ about my exhibit at the Chicago Public Library branch in the Austin neighborhood for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! The interview will air this morning. Tune in! Thank you to Carrie Shepherd from WBEZ, and thank you to Keeshana Clark and everyone at the Austin branch, as well as Molly Kelly and CPL in general! Read more about the display here.

Me in front of my AAPIHM exhibit at the West Chicago
Avenue Branch of Chicago Public Library in Austin.
Photo by WBEZ's Carrie Shepherd.

And as announced in the previous post, Line Dot Editions has invited me to guest judge an open call group art show of theirs again! Here are the submission details for Hot Fun in the Summertime. Midwest artists, apply!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

It’s Gonna Be

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (and what a gorgeous day it is in Chicago)! I’ve installed my AAPIHM exhibit at the West Chicago Avenue Branch of Chicago Public Library in the neighborhood of Austin! It’s a handful of photos I took on my phone while traveling along the Silk Road in Western China, and it’ll be on view throughout May. (Fitting that my own Journey to the West is chronicled in a westside community.) More information about the exhibit celebrating APAHM can be found here, and you can view the rest of the photos here and on Instagram. P.S. The security guard there’s a sweetheart and kept coming over to look at my art while I was installing and pointed out the places he wants to travel to (hint: the places in my photos.)

Chicago Public Library's news about my AAPIHM exhibit.

Another way to celebrate: Be sure to check out my ongoing series, ABC in HK, in which I interview Chinese Americans currently living in Hong Kong and amplify their stories, struggles, triumphs, and dreams. (And if you’d like to participate, email me! The call for voices is here.)

More news, including a couple announcements (one of which is an opportunity):

Midwest artists: Line Dot Editions is having another open call group show, Hot Fun in the Summertime, and I’ll be guest judging on their panel again! The application deadline will be June 2, the opening reception will be July 19, and the exhibition will close August 16. I’ll update once the gallery officially posts the call; stay tuned!

Thanks for asking me to shoot my portrait, Miguel Guzman! And for the pizza. And for putting up with how awkward I am in front of a camera. (I suffer from the affliction Resting Serious Face, the lesser known relative of Resting Bitch Face.)

I received a notification that someone left a comment in a 7-year-old post. Love it. Throwback to the early days of Artists on the Lam, when I was [more of] a shit-stirrer [than I am now] (ah, youth): “A Call for a Global Art History / It’s not all about you, dude”.

My “Kites in Uptown” photo is one of the winners for Block Club Chicago’s postcard contest! (Not bad considering I only posted about my nomination on social media once and not at all on this blog since I was traveling in Hong Kong at the time.) Thank you to all who voted and thank you, Block Club Chi! Some of those who backed their Kickstarter will be getting my photo in the mail.

My paternal grandma
in the Hong Kong Railway Museum in Tai Po.

Lastly: I went on my annual Hong Kong trip last month as a VIP at Art Basel, Art Central, and Asia Contemporary Art Show (and had a free spur-of-the-moment portrait taken there), and you can look through my photos (be sure to read the captions) here and here. My previous blog post chronicles my visit with self-taught artist Fung Ming Chip in his studio, one of many art highlights. Of course, my HK trips are never always about art; they’re about family. And snacks. And dogs. Lots and lots of adorable dogs. (I mean, why else would one travel?)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wordplay: An Artist Studio Visit with Fung Ming Chip

A week ago while I was in Hong Kong, I spent a lovely morning visiting the Sai Ying Pun studio of self-taught artist Fung Ming Chip, whose work has been included in collections at the Met and LACMA.

Fung Ming Chip in his studio (also his and Yim Tom's
home) showing me and fellow Chicagoan Inez Suen
his calligraphic artwork.

Thank you again, Ming and Yim, for welcoming me into your home, for your hospitality (tea, food, hugs), and—Ming—for waking up hours before you normally do to meet me (he usually gets up after noon—hashtag artist life).

Ming deconstructs Chinese calligraphy and pushes the medium in directions I never thought possible. With all the layers and depth, his pieces are “unphotographable,” and that need to see them in person is kind of the distinction between East vs. West; there’s an intimacy with traditional Chinese art in general, and before you open a scroll you don’t know what you’re about to find—you’re in for a surprise each time.

Also… Ming doesn’t have a website or anything, so you really do have to see his work in person!

Ming is also a photographer and showed us Polaroids he took back in the day.

If you’d like to reach Ming, get in touch with Yim Tom. She’s the wonderful woman I met at the Art Basel VIP Private View—in the Collectors Lounge someone called my name and it was a Chicago friend, Inez Suen, and Inez was there with Yim—and was the one from whom I learned “about how British colonial rule deliberately suppressed the development of culture and national identity in Hong Kong” (one of my “truth bombs” in my caption for this photo of me on Instagram and Facebook). And she and Ming are married, and they’re the perfect pair.

Monday, April 9, 2018

ABC in HK // Nathan Tseng

ABC in HK is a new mini interview series amplifying the voices of Chinese Americans who’ve returned to their roots / motherland, whether it’s for work or any other reason. These are their stories, their struggles, their triumphs, their dreams.

If you’re a Chinese American (either an ABC—a.k.a. American-born Chinese—or Chinese who grew up in the US) currently living in Hong Kong and would like to participate, see the call here.

I’m back (from—no surprise here—Hong Kong), so this project is too. For its return, meet Nathan Tseng, and ABC who actually spent his adolescent years in Hong Kong before moving as an adult. His description of an “identity crisis”—feeling more American when in Hong Kong, feeling more Chinese when in America—is something many can relate to.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Tseng

Name: Nathan Tseng

Title & Occupation: Web Developer at Spacious.hk

Where you were born and grew up: Cupertino, CA

When you moved to Hong Kong: I actually first moved to Hong Kong at the age of 10 in 1994 and went to high school here. I moved back to the US for college and then came back again in 2011 for work.

Why you moved to Hong Kong: First time was with family. The second time I came back was myself wanting to try out the job market here. I was also in a long distance relationship with my now wife.

Tell me a little about yourself! Basically, what’s your story?

My parents are originally from Hong Kong, but they both immigrated to North America in their teens: my mom to Canada following the riots of 1966 and my dad to the US for college. When I was born, my dad was working in Cupertino and I had a typical suburban upbringing during my formative years. Although Cupertino is considered a majority Asian suburb these days, it was mostly white back then and that’s how I remembered it. Since my parents had spent so many years in North America, I actually spoke mostly English at home unlike many other Asian families we knew.

When I was 10, my grandpa convinced my dad to move back to Hong Kong to help out with the family business. Moving at that age, especially to another country, was difficult. Although I had travelled to Hong Kong a number of times, living here was a different story. Making new friends was difficult, and so was getting used to the densely populated city life. My parents sent me to international school and I can only imagine how much more difficult it would have been had I gone to a local Cantonese speaking school. On the other hand, because of that, I think it took me a long time to understand local Hong Kong culture, which I eventually came to love and appreciate.

I went back to the States for college, first UT Austin for undergraduate and then University of Washington where I did a Masters in Urban Planning. I didn’t quite follow my father’s footsteps; I guess I was still trying to discover what my interests were after those years living in Hong Kong. I did experience some reverse culture shock moving back to the US. For example, football is very big in Texas and I didn’t quite understand the hype since it wasn’t something I kept up with living in HK. I joined some Asian American groups, but also realized that my life experiences differed from theirs; many people I met hadn’t even been to Asia before!

In 2011, I was living in Seattle and while I enjoyed it there very much, I wanted to try the job market in Hong Kong because of my interest in urban development and planning. Unfortunately, being a planner meant I needed native Chinese language skills and sadly my written Chinese skills weren’t up to par. At that time, I decided to stay here though, since I started seeing my now wife, whom I married last Christmas. I ended up doing a few odd jobs, including part time English tutoring, before I ended up getting a job at Spacious, a local online real estate platform, as a software developer. Funny how I ultimately ended up following my dad’s footsteps in a way!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


It’s spring, and you know what that means: I’m traveling to Hong Kong today! (Thank you, once again, to Art Basel, Asia Contemporary Art Show, et al. for the VIP program invites!) If you aren’t following me on Instagram and Twitter already, now’s the time to start; I’ll be sharing live updates and photos throughout my trip. (Also, SUE the T. rex—everyone’s favorite large murderbird—follows me [and occasionally replies to completely non-science-related thoughts of mine], a fact that brings me great joy every time I suddenly remember it. So yes, be like SUE.) (Granted, the likes of Ai Weiwei and Beck follow me too, but SUE’s the biggest celebrity here to my former [and current] nerdy self. Well, literally. But still.)

Some of my phone* photos from last year.
*(Except for the one of me, which my mom took.)
I love how my images are mostly of women,
even Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy).

I’ll be back on April 4. ‘Til then: Read my new (launched it last week!) ongoing interview series, ABC in HK, amplifying the voices—and the stories, struggles, triumphs, and dreams—of Chinese Americans who’ve returned to their roots, here and on Medium (and view the call for voices, which I’ve added a couple updates to, here); and look forward to my upcoming exhibit at the Chicago Public Library during May in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Monday, March 19, 2018

ABC in HK // Sylvia Chong

ABC in HK is a new mini interview series amplifying the voices of Chinese Americans who’ve returned to their roots / motherland, whether it’s for work or any other reason. These are their stories, their struggles, their triumphs, their dreams.

If you’re a Chinese American (either an ABC—a.k.a. American-born Chinese—or Chinese who grew up in the US) currently living in Hong Kong and would like to participate, see the call here.

For the second installment of this project (here’s the first one), meet Sylvia Chong, an ABC from the Heartland. Read about what it was like for her to grow up as the only Asian around and how moving to Hong Kong gave her a stronger sense of self and belonging.

Photo courtesy of Sylvia Chong

Name: Sylvia Chong

Title & Occupation: Senior customer support at Basecamp, a project management software.

Where you were born and grew up:

I was born in Starkville, Mississippi (my birth certificate lists me as “Oriental”). When I was 2 weeks old, I moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota. I lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and went to college at the University of Oklahoma.

When you moved to Hong Kong: July 2010.

Why you moved to Hong Kong: I moved to HK for law school. In 2012, I graduated with a JD.

Tell me a little about yourself! I care about food, friends, and American pop culture.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced since moving to Hong Kong?

The language—and being a Midwestern ABC—was odd. It was a huge culture shock; I didn’t grow up with any other Asians, so I didn’t know a lot about holidays or cultural norms. It was pretty hard living somewhere where I was expected to know certain things and I just had no idea. I’m not fluent in Cantonese now, but I can get around all right on my own.

Monday, March 12, 2018

ABC in HK // Kin Wong

ABC in HK is a new mini interview series amplifying the voices of Chinese Americans who’ve returned to their roots / motherland, whether it’s for work or any other reason. These are their stories, their struggles, their triumphs, their dreams.

If you’re a Chinese American (either an ABC—a.k.a. American-born Chinese—or Chinese who grew up in the US) currently living in Hong Kong and would like to participate, see the call here.

To kick off this project, meet Kin Wong. When I emailed him my questions I knew that he and I had NYC in common (he’s a native New Yorker and I lived there during college). What I didn’t know was that he moved to Hong Kong just two months ago, he’s from a family of undocumented immigrants, he’s a fellow INJ (T here), and he survived 9/11. And that he’s quite the storyteller. Digest every word. I know I did.

Photo courtesy of Kin Wong

Name: Kin Wong

Title & Occupation: Project & Services Director for an Office Interior Design & Construction Company

Where you were born and grew up: New York City

When you moved to Hong Kong: I arrived January 8th, 2018.

Why you moved to Hong Kong: I moved to start a new job here.

Tell me a little about yourself! Basically, what’s your story?

This can go in several directions so I’ll start broadly and then focus on my Hong Kong move.

I have an older brother and older sister who were both born in Hong Kong but left when they were young. (My brother has not returned to his birth country since then.) My family illegally immigrated to the US and then in 1976, I was born in New York City. We were poor but my hard-working parents eventually built a middle-class life for us. My mother’s plan for her children: go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a steady corporate desk job. (She later added marriage for us and grandchildren for her but I never followed up on those two.) She never pushed us to be doctors or lawyers so we had to figure out what we wanted to do.

I followed her plan and went with the flow. I studied business in college but ended up doing I.T. for about 20 years for the company that hired me right out of school.

Two major life events were September 11 and my mother’s death from brain cancer.

I was on the 80th floor of Two World Trade Center when the first plane hit Tower One. I’m alive today because I did everything right that day. A small Hong Kong interior design company was rebuilding our Hong Kong office when we asked them to drop everything to rebuild our New York City office. I soon became friends with the interior design company’s owner. (Spoiler alert: This friendship is important later.)

My mother died in September 2004. My siblings and I cared for her for over a year after her brain cancer diagnosis. Initially it was an emotional roller coaster ride of good and bad news. But the last 6 months were a helpless decline until her end at age 61.

Those two events left a profound mark on my life. They made me appreciate life, friends, and family more. (As part of that appreciation, I bought a motorcycle after 9/11, but hid it from my mother, of course.) My mother’s passing left me lost about my life’s direction. It caused me to question whether a steady corporate desk job was the best way to spend my precious time on this planet. I searched for a meaningful purpose but never found it. (I’m not poo-pooing steady corporate desk work for anyone else.)

I was unhappy with my job for a long time and waited for a kick-in-the-pants to leave that never came. Even after a corporate takeover was announced, I was offered a position at the new company. It was then that my Hong Kong interior design friend offered me a job to work with him in Hong Kong. So many things about the offer lined up with what I thought (and still think) I was looking for in a job/career/life, especially given the lessons I learned after surviving 9/11 and losing my mother. This was better than that kick-in-the-pants I was waiting for. It was like winning the lottery.

How would you personally compare Hong Kong with NYC?

Hong Kong is bigger but feels more densely populated. I do not find Hong Kong easily walkable; you need to know inter-building corridors, overpasses, underpasses, bridges, and tunnels. I also find it dirtier here. I’m waiting to see how I fare in the summer humidity. There’s no Amazon.com here, which is both good and bad, I guess. Transportation here is cheap. Get used to not having hot water on demand. Small apartments.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced since moving to Hong Kong?

While I have no problem living in HK, my biggest challenge has been job-related. I’m having a hard time adjusting my personality conflicts (INFJ) to suit my new job. My old job was very comfortable in that it let me indulge in negative and lazy habits. I knew this would be one of the challenges when I decided to make the move. It continues to be very difficult but the struggle is good for me.

What have been the best things about living in Hong Kong?

It’s not about Hong Kong specifically but more about a fresh start in a new place. It felt pretty awesome to purge most of my belongings. I realized that the belongings owned me in some way.

My employer is great. The company is very successful and they do high quality work. I’m proud to say I work with them.

A childhood friend of mine said he grew up after he left NYC. I think there’s something about having my family (brother/sister) around that let me let things happen to me. This is especially true because I’m the youngest sibling by at least 9 years. I’m 42 this year so it’s kind of embarrassing that I’m still growing up. I have more control over my life now… a little more than my lazy self wants. Nothing is stopping me from succeeding except me.

I also enjoy just being here. Sometimes even when walking to work, I feel like I’m on vacation because Hong Kong is still new to me. I think about how cool it is to be here and how lucky I am for the people that helped make this happen.

Where/what are your favorite places/things to do in Hong Kong?

It’s fun and exciting to explore the restaurants in my Soho neighborhood but I’m uncomfortable eating on my own at the busy places. It’s a treat when someone takes me somewhere very local: flimsy stools, toilet paper on the table, cheap food. I get excited about discovering side lanes between buildings, pedestrian bridges, and tunnel connections. I’m also pretty grateful for some of the people who look after me here so spending time with them gives me the warm fuzzies.

Have your views about being an American changed since you came here?

No. In many ways, I identify myself as an American, but really I’ve got one foot on each side of the door (not 100% American and not 100% Chinese). I’ve always been Chinese to “Americans” and now that I’m in Hong Kong, the people around me see me as an American. I don’t think I’ll shake that until I learn to speak Cantonese perfectly… but those tones!

Have your views about being Chinese changed since you came here?

No. But I’m still struggling to fit in while maintaining my me-ness.

Has being an ABC in Hong Kong shaped/changed your overall views about heritage, home, and identity?

Whoa, deep questions. This is a pretty permanent move for me. I don’t have plans to go back to live in the US so Hong Kong is becoming more of a home every day. I don’t think anything has changed but I think I’m more aware of some things. For example, my family left China and Hong Kong for the US to pursue the dream for a better life. They did it with nothing in their pockets. Now I’ve returned to the place they left, for the same reason, but not struggling nearly as much as they did.

What advice would you give to an ABC who would consider moving to Hong Kong?

If you don’t speak Cantonese, learn it. Unless you have the means, be prepared for a smaller apartment. Practice doing currency conversion in your head. Temperature conversion too. I laughed at people wearing puffy jackets in 50 degree winter weather. I don’t laugh anymore because it is cold when both your office and apartment don’t have heat. Get an Octopus card. Forget fluffy cotton towels because nothing dries here. The Ikea in Shatin is big; Causeway Bay, not so much.

You can find Kin on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Infinity Under a Roof

I’ve been chosen to exhibit my artwork at the Chicago Public Library during May in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’ll be exhibiting at the West Chicago Avenue Branch, serving the Austin, Lawndale, and North Lawndale neighborhoods. Thank you, CPL!

And speaking of AAPI heritage, a reminder: I have a call for voices (specifically, Chinese American expats in Hong Kong) in the previous post!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Call for Voices: ABC in HK

Calling all Chinese American expats in Hong Kong!

Me on Kowloon Peak / Fei Ngo Shan, Hong Kong, 2016. Photo by one of my
aunts (whose name, after joining our family, also happens to be Jenny Lam).

Are you a Chinese American (either an ABC—a.k.a. American-born Chinese—or Chinese who grew up in the US) currently living in Hong Kong? I want to hear from you!

I’m launching ABC in HK, a mini interview series featuring Chinese Americans who’ve returned to their roots / motherland, whether it’s for work or any other reason.

(I’m especially interested in hearing the voices of Chinese American artists in Hong Kong, but people of all occupations are welcome to answer this call, as I’m looking for a variety of perspectives.)

These interviews will be conducted via email and published online. (And possibly also as a little zine if I get enough contributions and if I get enough artists possibly also as a little group exhibition; the possibilities are endless!)

I’ll also put everyone I interview in touch with each other (if you want to opt out of this that’s fine too!) and build a community!

I want to amplify your stories, your struggles, your triumphs, your dreams.

If you’d like to participate, shoot me an email at artists.on.the.lam@gmail.com with “ABC in HK interview” as the subject.

Update 1: ABC in HK has officially launched! Read the first interview here, and check out the tag (as well as the Medium feed) to see all interviews.

Update 2: I’ve been getting emails asking if I’m still doing this, and the answer is yes! This is an ongoing project.

Jenny Lam is a self-taught artist, independent curator, and writer. She was born in Chicago to Hong Kong immigrants, and she graduated from Columbia University in New York City. Her site, Artists on the Lam, was named “Best Local Visual Arts Blog” in the Chicago Reader, and her group show, I CAN DO THAT, was named the audience choice for “Best Art Exhibit” in NewCity. Part of her ongoing large-scale interactive public art project, Dreams of a City, was selected to be exhibited in the Chicago Cultural Center, and an original story of hers exploring Asian American identity was published in New Frontiers, a graphic novel anthology.

Friday, January 5, 2018

[Solar] Revolution

Happy New Year and Happy 2018, friends!

At Heavenly Lake / Tianchi, in the middle of Bogda Peak
of the Tianshan mountain range. Xinjiang, China, 2017.

Who else thought 2017 felt uncharacteristically long? Ever since I was 7 I felt that time passed by too quickly, with each subsequent year slipping out of my grasp as soon as I could grab ahold of it. Last year, however, felt like a thousand years in one. (Thank you, American political hellscape.) When reflecting on it on New Year’s Eve, I’d think back to an event and go, “Wait, that was this year?” (I was shocked, for instance, when I realized the City selecting my artwork to be exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center was an accomplishment I could include in my list below.) But in the national night there was always a light on, and my musing in this year-old interview (more about that later) that “Good things can still happen, and good things still do happen” turned out to be true; I had another great personal year in terms of what I achieved and with whom I shared it (you).

My highlights of 2017, in no particular order:

  • I became a published comic book artist and writer for the first time, contributing art and an original story exploring Asian American identity in the graphic novel anthology New Frontiers.

  • I had fun guest judging submissions for a show at Line Dot Editions.

  • I started sharing the Chicago edition of Dreams of a City one mapped postcard per day, every day, online for the first time ever.

  • My parents and I traveled to Western China for the first time, embarking on a Silk Road Tour.

  • Things like this kept happening.

  • Against all odds, hope survived, as did we.

My top liked Instagram photos of 2017, thanks to you.

You might notice that in 2017, I brought my own art back to the forefront (after producing the biggest and best interactive group show I’d ever done). As an artist who’s also a curator, I find that it’s often difficult to balance the two; when using your creativity to curate exhibitions where you showcase the talents of other artists (which I love doing), oftentimes your own art takes a backseat. This year was about focusing on creating art myself, without ignoring my love for that public interaction and advocacy. As is my nature, even “my” art is yours, like an ongoing collection of your hopes. We’re in this together.

2017 was also, of course, about the Resistance, from nationwide activism to little, personal* triumphs and acts of defiance. *(Remember how, at the end of my episode of Transition to Power last year, I answered that “I’m gonna’ keep doing what I’ve always been doing; I’m gonna’ keep showing off how badass my parents and my grandparents and my ancestors and my culture and my people are; I’m gonna’ keep championing women of color”? Know that sometimes simply living and loving—loving yourself and loving not only your heritage and those who came before you but also loving the living, those in the here and now, because cultures are more than customs—can be a victory. My pride in being a Chinese American woman is a flag flying in the face of phobia and hate. It is a raised fist, punching through ceilings that are walls.)

What were the best parts of your year? Leave a comment!

Your top 8 most read posts of 2017:

8. “New Frontiers” – My announcement that a new story of mine (including artwork by me) would be published in an original graphic novel anthology by the team behind the Asian American superhero anthology Secret Identities. 
7. “Southern Song” – My annual pre-Hong Kong art trip post. 
6. “[Your Guide to Overcoming] Expo FOMO” – My picks for what to see at Expo Art Week, including Expo Chicago and the second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial (which ends this Sunday!). 
5. “City of [Ours]” – My words of gratitude after the Chicago Cultural Center Open House; it included The Subject Is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities exhibition, for which I was chosen to represent Ward 32. 
4. “People, Places” – My announcement that I’d be sharing one mapped postcard every day at @dreamsofacity. 
3. “Possibilities” – My announcement that I’d been selected to exhibit my art at the Chicago Cultural Center. 
2. “Open Call for Artists: Line Dot Editions’ Holiday Show” – The, well, open call for artists for Line Dot’s Holiday Show, which I’d been invited to guest judge. 
1. “Power” – My episode of the political documentary Transition to Power by On the Real Film, who interviewed me about my thoughts on the 2016 election and its aftermath. This also happened to be my first post of 2017, setting the tone for the rest of the year. “Rebel scum” indeed.

Honorable mentions (posts that weren’t written in 2017 but were widely read nonetheless):

  • Not all those who wander are lost” – My look back at 2014 (this post probably saw a resurgence thanks to the news that a Lord of the Rings prequel series is in the works).

  • Discussion: Skill vs. concept” – Another topic from 2011 that permeates everything I’ve done and continue to do (spoiler alert: to me, both are essential).

  • Hope” – A defining piece I wrote on New Year’s Eve 2016 that still resonates with readers now, especially the passage wherein I reflect on “the lows” and offer some tough love, advice, and calls to action.

Things to look forward to in 2018:

  • Throughout the year is the first Art Design Chicago. I’ll be previewing the exhibit opening on January 11; follow along on social media that day for live updates.

  • Starting February 16, it’ll be the Year of the Dog!

  • The fight continues:
  • The Women’s March returns this month. (Here’s a link to the Chicago march on January 20.)
  • The year of midterm elections has arrived; on November 6, 33 Senate seats and all 435 House seats will be up for reelection. We have 10 months to prepare; get involved (canvas, donate, etc.), go vote, and let’s take back this country.

What are you excited about? Let me know!

I wish you good fortune, good health, happiness, and—above all—strength. We made it this far, and we’re still here. Keep working. Keep fighting. Keep caring. Keep doing good. Thank you for helping keep my hope alive. Onwards!

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