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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