History from the Heart
Behind the scenes with CW Director Rene Yung
I hope you had a good 4th! This time of celebration is a great reminder of our country’s wonderful web of cultural confluences – such as fireworks, invented in China, and an early trade item with America. At CW, we follow the intricacies of this web to relink threads that have often been broken, and reveal patterns that often go unnoticed. Weaving together research, stories, images, and sounds, we bring you unique works that cross borders between disciplines to connect people, place, and time. It is history from the heart, because people are at the heart of history.
Read about how we do this in the multi-part art and research project CW: Bay Chronicles, updates on our storytelling production CW: Golden Gate, and more, as we bring hidden histories to light with artistry and authenticity.
And be sure to check out our new "Stories that Feed Us" section below, with clay pot rice recipe—yum!
Have a Happy summer! — Rene
Weaving the Net – CW: Bay Chronicles
If anything we do reweaves the net, surely it is Bay Chronicles. Last fall we partnered with the SF Maritime National Historical Park to retrace the forgotten history of Chinese shrimp fishing in the SF Bay, and sailed on the Park’s replica 19th century shrimp junk, the Grace Quan, to former shrimping sites around the Bay with an interdisciplinary team of artists, scientists, and maritime archaeologist.
During the CWBC public programming, Chinese Whispers broke the story about historical collaboration between Chinese American and African American residents in Bayview Hunters Point, a major former shrimping site, and the CWBC expedition "rediscovered" the sites of forgotten Chinese shrimp camps with the aid of historical maps and photographs.
This Spring, CW Director Rene Yung collaborated with sound artist Jeremiah Moore to create a sound installation for the exhibition “Hydrarchy” at San Francisco State University's Fine Arts Gallery. The first in a series of iterative reflections on this under-valued history, the installation wove together sounds recorded on the sails and texts gathered from research and oral histories.
This fall, we’ll develop the installation for SF Maritime’s Visitor Center to create an evocative, immersive environment that animates the past through the poetics of the present. Who says history is just about looking backwards?
Stay tuned for updates about the exhibition and other CWBC developments as we renew the interwoven threads of this fascinating story to connect history and the present, and community and place.
Giving Voice to History – CW: Golden Gate
History is speaking at every moment, if we’ll just listen. This winter we launched an Indiegogo campaign to give eloquent voice to history through the multimedia storytelling production CW: Golden Gate, about the early immigrant communities in the Bay Area, and connect it to stories of immigrants in SF Chinatown today. Our deepest thanks to everyone who helped us surpass our first campaign goal:
By the Numbers
$16,234 was contributed
by 144 donors
from 5 countries
on 3 continents.
You can still DONATE TO THE CAMPAIGN to help bridge our final goal, as a special InDemand project of Indiegogo. Many thanks to the Fleishhacker and Zellerbach Foundations for their additional support. The production is now scheduled for Spring 2016, as we continue to refine the script and assemble our theater team.
Calling Community Actors
Do you have storytelling talents and would like to join in an exciting artistic production to bring overlooked history to life? Contact us for information on how to become a proxy storyteller.
Branching Forth from Spring
The year of the Ram took off like its namesake. After wrapping our Indiegogo campaign, in addition to creating the installation for CWBC@SFSU, we also participated in the SF History Expo, and held our fourth annual Lunar New Year storytelling celebration in collaboration with our friends at SF Maritime, on board the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha.
On a sun-drenched afternoon, audience members gathered for Cultivating Community, to enjoy a program with a rich panoply of community and literary voices. They listened to stories from different cultural viewpoints on early Chinese immigrant communities, including from unexpected sources such as Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Italian American fishermen in San Francisco, interwoven with CW stories and poetry about Chinese maritime life in the Bay.
Slam poet Jason Bayani magnetized everyone with a riveting performance of his poetry about the diasporic experience, and community members Ramona Chang, Ford Lee, Virginia Stearns and SFMNHP Ranger David Pelfrey shared personal stories of cultural renewal, that ranged from Chinatown New Year traditions to celebrations in bi-cultural and adoptive families.
Our thanks to everyone for making the event a success. It exemplifies the CW commitment to connecting the unexpected and enriching meaning in celebration of our shared community heritage.
Immigrant Heritage Month
In June, CW Director Rene Yung was a featured artist in “The Art of the Immigrant,” a celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month presented by FWD.us at WIX Lounge on the SF Waterfront. Rene inspired the audience with a presentation of her powerful installation art, and CW veteran storyteller Kevin Lee and intern Mei Li Isaacson delivered fun readings from audience-selected CW StoryCookies™ that gave a taste of the larger stories. Click here for the FWD blog on Rene's installation art.
CW is about your stories – everyday stories that connect and nourish us. Here, Candy Tsang of San Francisco and Ma-Lai Farrell of Walnut Creek talk about rice and share a favorite rice recipe. Enjoy!
Meet our growing community here! The CW Community is made up of all kinds of people spanning generations -- professionals, scholars, retirees, students, "regular folks" who joined us to bring forgotten stories to light.