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Department ofArt and Art History

Belonging: Christine Wong Yap

Artist's Exhibition Statement

The Belonging exhibition assembles three projects. In each project, participants share the places, people, activities, and customs that help them feel a sense of belonging. For this presentation, I highlight the partnerships and processes of social engagement that enabled these projects. In addition, I created a new transmedia ‘story-map’ especially for this virtual exhibition.

Over the past few years, I’ve created site-specific, socially-engaged projects in partnership with organizations and communities to explore dimensions of psychological well-being. I make drawings, prints, and publications—but these are only the most tangible, conventional aspects of my practice. These objects represent a part of a project, not the whole. In a gallery, a viewer must look at the artwork, read the wall text, and watch video or listen to audio to connect the dots and understand the context. In a virtual gallery, I thought, why not make the backstory—the usually-unseen where, who, and how—as visible and present as the what?

With this in mind, I am sharing images of outcomes, as well as processes (the how), of three projects on belonging. The first project occurred in 2017, at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The second followed in 2018-2019 in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the support of the Othering and Belonging Institute. The third was last year in San Francisco Chinatown in partnership with the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco and the Chinatown Arts and Culture Coalition.

Through these projects, over 130 contributors shared their stories of belonging. I commemorated 13 places of belonging with site-specific hand-painted signs, 25 locales with hand-lettered certificates, and a comic book available in English and Chinese.


With the opportunity to create an online exhibition, I questioned which aspects of IRL gallery-based exhibitions could be re-thought, discarded, or displaced. Virtually, you can practically go anywhere and do anything, so why go to a white cube to hang pictures on a virtual wall? I decided to supplement these web pages with a transmedia ‘story map.’ Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection: A Journey of 12 Places of Belonging is a combination of interactive maps, writing, quotes, photos, and videos highlighting the where and who of 12 stories of belonging. (Note: The journey can be viewed on a mobile device, but a desktop or laptop is recommended for the full experience. Please be patient, as interactive maps load.)

Christine Wong Yap

Start the Journey
Start the Journey