Home Town: RePresenting Boston’s Chinatown

 

The New England Foundation for the Arts announces Home Town: RePresenting Boston’s Chinatown as a Place of People – Then and Now, an interactive public art exhibition by Wen-ti Tsen will be extended through October 2, 2016. It takes place at many locations throughout Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. In addition, on Saturday, September 24, from 2-5pm, there will be a special visitor interactive photo session where patrons may have their photo taken against a 1907-1915 Chinatown backdrop at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Chinatown Park located at the intersection of Surface Road and Beech Street in Boston.

“We are thrilled for artist Wen-ti Tsen,” says New England Foundation for the Arts Creative City Program Manager Kim Szeto, “that the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy has agreed to extend this public art installation through October 2. We are proud of Wen-ti’s hard work and glad that even more folks will get a chance to see the exhibition and be reminded of this neighborhood’s rich history in the midst of increasing development and changes taking place in Chinatown and across our city.”

Home Town, according to artist and activist Wen-ti Tsen, “is a public art project supporting a recent movement in Boston’s Chinatown – to counteract the extensive urban developments and gentrification that is threatening the integrity of the community.” The exhibition features a series of life-size painted cut-out figures based on historical photographs of local residents from the Chinese Historical Society of New England archives. “We’re using twelve sets of life-size cut-outs (some in pairs or threes) to represent the Chinese in Boston since before 1900, as professors, merchants, wives, mothers, shopkeepers and workers. The aim is to meet these people, take in their existence, and see how the neighborhood has changed. I hope viewers passing by will see them with a sisterly or brotherly empathy, and notice their historical lives.”

“For this project,” Tsen continues, “I traveled through one hundred years, feeling strongly for the lives I witnessed, reinforcing the voices of the community. Chinatown is, in fact, more than a birthplace, more than a residential or commercial neighborhood, but also functions as a social, political, cultural and economic locus for thousands of Asian immigrant families throughout New England. It is a place where people gather, connect, and feel ‘at home.’ Meeting these folks, and inviting visitors to have their photos taken with them, makes for greater understanding about how the present day affects decades of history and meaning.”

Four community organizations have supported Home Town, including Creative City Community Partner the Chinese Historical Society of New England (CHSNE), the Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW) Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC), and the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA).