When designers are tasked with public projects for our neighborhood, where do they start? What visual references should they draw on? What does it mean to design for Chinatown? Bamboo, dragons, the color red… how do we go beyond tropes to study the aesthetics of Chinatown. The term "cultural identity" is complex and layered in our community. Let's discuss, dissect & expand this topic together.
The panel will be held at Chung Pak community room which overlooks the Canal Street triangle -- the site of Department of Transportation’s proposed Gateways to Chinatown project. The open RFP for this project along with the chosen entry has prompted the urgency to discuss how designers can best approach the task of designing for Chinatown. Panelists Yin Kong (director of Think!Chinatown), Herb Tam & Andrew Rebatta (curators at MoCA), Kerri Culhane (architecture historian) will each share 8 visual concepts of Manhattan Chinatown’s aesthetics with the allowance of 88 seconds per concept. Discussion moderated by Beatrice Chen (director of ISS) will tease out overlapping themes as well as contrasts in presented concepts. Following the presentation, audience members will participate in an engagement process to indicate which images resonated with them the most. This process will result in a physical documentation of visual references that will be available to designers engaging in projects for Chinatown.
This event is part of Chinatown Arts Week and is presented by Think!Chinatown. Thank you to Chung Pak LDC for sponsoring.
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Beatrice Chen is the Executive Director of Immigrant Social Services, Inc. (ISS). She has 20 years of non-profit experience working at the intersection of arts & culture, education, and public history, including 15 years at the forefront of culture work in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Beatrice grew up in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the U.S. and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She received a B.A. in history and international studies from Yale University, an Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and a Masters in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Herb Tam is the Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Chinese in America. Herb was previously the Associate Curator at Exit Art and the Acting Associate Curator at the Queens Museum of Art. Herb was born in Hong Kong and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied at San Jose State University and earned a masters in fine arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York.
Andrew Rebatta is the Associate Curator at the Museum of Chinese in America. Andrew has worked on exhibitions at community-based museums in New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. In 2011, he was Curator-in-Residence at the Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City, and has most recently organized exhibitions and performances for the New Forms Media Society in Vancouver, BC.
Kerri Culhane’s work has focused on the past, present, and future of the immigrant neighborhoods of New York City’s Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Bowery. In 2015, she curated the exhibition Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1900-1968 (MoCA), which examined life and career of the first Chinese American professional architect to practice in New York’s Chinatown. Kerri holds an MA in architectural history with a focus on historic preservation & planning from Virginia Commonwealth University, and an MS in ecological design from the Conway School.
Yin Kong is director and co-founder of Think!Chinatown. Previously project lead of the Dashilar Project, she consulted a municipal agency of Beijing on urban revitalization strategies in the city's historic hutong core. She holds a Masters of Architecture, Urban Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London and a Bachelors of Arts, Urban Studies from Columbia University. Her work has been presented at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2016 and the Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture 2007 & 2009. This year she is a fellow of both the New Museum's IdeasCity and Coro's Neighborhood Leadership programs.