Skip to main content

Department ofArt and Art History

San Francisco Bay Area (2018–2019)

San Francisco Bay Area (2018-2019)
Project Statement

For five months in 2018-2019, I had the opportunity to build upon and expand the belonging project in the San Francisco Bay Area, as the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Othering and Belonging Institute at U.C. Berkeley.

I invited the public to share their stories of belonging and to nominate places of belonging to be commemorated. With more resources and time, I made the project more language-accessible by getting outreach materials and story forms translated into Spanish and Chinese. I was also able to partner with a wide range of local organizations, such as Soccer Without Borders (a global youth program with after school programs in Oakland), NIAD (an art studio in Richmond), The Beat Within (a writing program in juvenile halls), and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco (who connected me with Chinese political dissidents in Union City and Fremont). I also incorporated stories from students in elementary school through college.

I selected 25 places to commemorate based on these stories of belonging. I created certificates using letterpress-printing and calligraphy. I contacted locations and personally delivered the framed certificates to them, installing them on site whenever possible.

I was inspired by Brené Brown, a social researcher, who wrote that true belonging is the courage to stand alone. In addition to asking contributors about places of belonging, I asked them if they carried their sense of belonging with them wherever they went. I interpreted six of these responses into designs which I screen printed onto bandannas.

Finally, I compiled 100 stories of belonging and designed a full-color, 116-page book. I included nine thematic maps. In collaboration with Evan Bissell, Arts & Strategy Coordinator at the Othering & Belonging Institute, I developed an index of 15 qualities of belonging, drawn from and defined by the stories of belonging. This experience deepened my understanding of belonging, and how it is not just a feeling of comfort or home, but a dimension of wellbeing and indicator related to public health.

*Developed as inaugural artist in residence at the Othering and Belonging Institute (formerly the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society) at UC Berkeley.