Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs examining the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and Del Sol Quartet.
These presentations expand public engagement with composer Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratoriofor Voices and Strings. World premiere performance with Del Sol Quartet and Volti, directed by Robert Geary on October 22 2021, 8pm at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco, with performances on Angel Island on Saturday, October 23, 2021, pending safety restrictions.
“As an Asian American artist, this opportunity to showcase a history that has both a direct connection to my ethnicity as well as a global connection is incredibly empowering.”
– Charlton Lee, Del Sol’s founder & Artistic Director
In a journey that flows from anger and sorrow, using gratitude as a way to find joy, this Zoom program weaves together their poetry with performances by the Del Sol Quartet, music by Asian-American composers Kui Dong, Theresa Wong, Jungyoon Wie, Huang Ruo, and a collaborative composition performed by The Last Hoisan Poets with the Del Sol Quartet. Artist Q&A moderated by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s executive director Edward Tepporn.
Online program held via Zoom on Saturday, May 22, 2021, 2pm.
Three descendants of Angel Island immigrants, The Last Hoisan Poets – Genny Lim, Flo Oy Wong and Nellie Wong – use poetry to speak their individual truths and creatively reclaim the Hoisan-wa language and culture, with performances by the Del Sol Quartet, music by Asian-American composers.
APICC USAAF 2021 Digital Program
Haw Meong Suey (Good Life’s Water)
This collaborative poem written by poets Nellie Wong, Flo Oy Wong, and Genny Lim, was performed with accompaniment by the Del Sol Quartet on Saturday May 22, 2021 for the United States of Asian America Festival 2021, presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. “Haw meong suey” is a Hoisan-wa phrase that translates as “good life’s water.” A person who has “haw meong suey” is a vessel of blessings.
On Tuesday morning, artist/poet/educator Flo Oy Wong shared her photo of these gorgeous peaches ripening on a tree in school garden near her home. Sweet Dawn, Flo’s neighborhood walking partner, wanted to bring her friends to enjoy the vibrant school garden, home of milkweed plants and more.
“From my morning exploration at the school garden behind my house. The insects – wasps, bees, ladybugs, Monarchs (big ones) – were plentiful.”
wasps lady bug bees buzz
on sunflowers milkweed grapevines
FLO OY WONG July 28, 2021
Two days later on Thursday morning, Flo and her neighborhood walking partners, Wonderful Wendy and Sweet Dawn were so sad. They discovered that the peach tree had been cut down. Flo wrote a poem, Robust Peaches 2, about the giving volunteer tree — now a memory shared by friends.
Robust Peaches 2
kissed by the sun,
grow by a low concrete
wall at the neighborhood
The peach tree’s inviting
palette, a deep reddish hue
with gold undertones, glow
under azure sky.
Abundance of fruit weighs
heavily on limbs limping
towards ground, enchanting
walkers who pass by.
One day, workers tear down
the peach tree, a volunteer one.
No one planted it.
It just grew.
Soon, when children return,
masked or double-masked,
to start the new school year,
the peach tree, pregnant with
bounty, will no longer be there.
FLO OY WONG
July 29, 2021
THE PEACH (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears edible juicy fruits with various characteristics, most called peaches and others, nectarines.
Peaches are not only a popular fruit, but also are symbolic in many cultural traditions, such as in art, paintings, and folk tales such as Peaches of Immortality.
The Peach Blossom Springis a fable written by Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (365-427) in 421 CE about “the chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries.”
This stunning video is generated by a model which simulates complex interactions within the tree, including growth, carbon partitioning among organs and responses to environmental, management and genetic factors. The model presented here is of a peach tree but is not calibrated to a specific tree. Developed by Mitch Allen, P. Prusinkiewicz and T. DeJong in partnership with The Virtual Tree. From the UC DAVIS Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center.
The Heirloom Project with Roots and Shoots was created by ArtsEd4All to encourage the harvesting and sharing of free seeds with friends. The project shares stories and free resources about seed saving, planting and other small acts of kindness that can be taken to help pollinators, people and the environment.
In normal times, today is the day that we would be delivering the Blake Mini Library book donations to be enjoyed by the young readers in celebration ofRead Across America Day. But as you know, the times are anything but normal.
Thanks to Christina and the fantastic team at Hamilton Families, we were able to find a way to help fill a need. The shelter was in need of Spanish language books.
We are happy to report that thanks to the generosity of community. We received the email this afternoon from First Book confirming that our shipment of 100 Spanish Language children’s books is on its way! We would like to offer our deepest thanks to the following individuals for their generous support of the 2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive.
Young Wong Tony Fong Patrick Wu Dennis Austria Noel Santos Sam Hom Victor Yan Alan Hom Dennis Dong Andy Kwong Loangle Newsome Karl Chan Jill Haw Karin Rylander Frank Bravo Olga Kiselev Kim Altamero
Felicia Westphal Frank Obi Gurneet Kaur Edgar Cardenas Brentyn Carder Chris Wong Aida Austria Tony Miranda Jun Merced Mao Elma Noel Asiatico Jerry Poblador Stephen Macasero Paul Campbell Dori Garcia Campbell Teresa Proano & Family Ruby Roque Quan
Theng Mangabat Ryan & Michelle Wong Cindy Castronovo Jon Wong Jelin Hoh Airene Austria Joey Jao Emmanuel Alan Merced Aldrin Austria Todd Fong Debbie Fong Jan Willemse Jamie Willemse Olivia Hicks Charles & Nuria Higueras Alex Higueras
¿Cómo usas tu voz? (How do you use your voice?)
In celebration of Read Across America Day, we started working on a new project – a way to safely celebrate reading together. Today, we are inviting friends to help to record a short reading from Sonia Sotomayor’s wonderfully story for young children, in both Spanish (¡Solo Pregunta!) and English (Just Ask!).
If you would like to help to record either the Spanish or English Language text for one of the characters in the book, please reach out and let us know that you would like to help by recording a reading for this special Read Across America Day project.
Readers are using the voice memo app on their phones or downloading a free app such as Audacity to record their readings in a quiet spot. Once we receive all of the audio files, the individual readings will be used to create one community read aloud file which we will share with the shelter.
A big thank you to our community of read aloud volunteers:
Alec Hawley, Antigone Trimis, Audrey Pasillas, Charles Higueras, Charlton Lee, Joanie Juster, Kathryn Bates, Linda Higueras, Maggy Frias, Mara Grimes, Maribel Pasillas, Miriam Magaña, Norma Rodriguez, Nuria Higueras, Pat Zamora, Rosa Rodriguez Perry and Tara Cartegena.
If you are interested in joining this project, we are keeping track of the people who have volunteered to read HERE, where you can see which characters are spoken for so far.
If you know of anyone who would really enjoy reading for this project, please invite them to join us for Read Across America Day. We welcome and celebrate community participation!
“There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. Whether it’s serious illness, financial hardship, or the simple constraint of parents who speak limited English, difficulty can tap unexpected strengths.” – Sonia Sotomayor
Every year, since 2016 when the small rainbow-colored librarywas first built and donated by San Francisco school children to the homeless shelter, ArtsEd4All has hosted the annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive benefitting the Hamilton Families. Our connection to this philanthropic effort began in 2014, after reading a story about a 6-year old boy in New York City named Blake Ansari who began a book drive with the support of his family and friends. Our annual Blake Mini Library book drive in San Francisco is typically held from Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to Valentine’s Day, with delivery to the shelter taking place on Read Across America Day. The project presents an opportunity for people of all ages to work together to share a love of reading through small acts of kindness that also encourage and support the philanthropic efforts of school children.
The 2020 Blake Mini Library Book Drivewas one of the last in-person events of 2020 where we were able to work with children, prior to the closing of San Francisco public schools due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, thanks to the efforts of students and community at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, we delivered 800 books with handwritten notes of encouragement to the shelter in March.
2020 was a year unlike any other, and we knew that it would be highly unlikely that we would be able to host the book drive as we usually do this year in 2021. We explored alternatives, such as direct purchase and shipment of books, but soon learned from the shelter that there are additional issues of capacity and storage to consider for organizations operating under these challenging present conditions.
¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!
This year: A new challenge for the 2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive
In searching for a way to best help with pressing needs, we learned that there is a shortage of Spanish language books for children at the shelter. After confirming the shelter’s storage capacity, we are happy to share that we will be able to support the children at Hamilton Families with a Spanish language book drive.
For the Shelter:
0-3y= 20 books
3-5y= 20 books
For Transitional Housing:
0-3y= 20 books
3-5y= 20 books
We seek 49 sponsors who will pledge to donate $5 each towards the purchase Spanish language books for the children at the Hamilton Families.
After pricing the costs for an order of 100 Spanish Language children’s books from First Book, we have come up with this modest, but meaningful goal. While we are unable to work directly with children this year in support of their acts of kindness, we hope to continue supporting these efforts again in the future. We welcome your participation in this year’s Blake Mini Library Book Drive and thank you for sharing your love of reading with the children at Hamilton Families.
“From the cities, villages, and farms of their birth, they journeyed across the Pacific, seeking better lives for themselves and their children. Many arrived at Angel Island, weary but hopeful, only to be unjustly confined for months or, in some cases, years. As we remember their struggle, we honor all who have been drawn to America by dreams of limitless opportunity.
Unlike immigrants who marveled at the Statue of Liberty upon arrival at Ellis Island, those who came to Angel Island were greeted by an intake facility that was sometimes called the “Guardian of the Western Gate.” Racially prejudiced immigration laws of the time subjected many to rigorous exams and interrogations, as well as detention in crowded, unsanitary barracks. Some expressed themselves by carving poetry and inscriptions into the walls in their native language — from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to Russian, German, and Urdu. These etchings remain on Angel Island today as poignant reminders of the immigrant experience and an unjust time in our history.
If there is any vindication for the Angel Island immigrants who endured so many hardships, it is the success achieved by those who were allowed entry, and the many who, at long last, gained citizenship. They have contributed immeasurably to our Nation as leaders in every sector of American life. The children of Angel Island have seized the opportunities their ancestors saw from across an ocean. By demonstrating that all things are possible in America, this vibrant community has created a beacon of hope for future generations of immigrants.”
The History That We Stand On, and The Future We Stand For
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet, at age twenty-two, to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. She was invited to write a poem inspired by the theme, “America United.” Amanda wanted to write about a new chapter in our country, while acknowledging the dark chapter in American history that we are living through. “Now more than ever, the United States needs an inaugural poem,” Gorman said. “Poetry is typically the touchstone that we go back to when we have to remind ourselves of the history that we stand on, and the future that we stand for.”
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover and every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid The new dawn blooms as we free it For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it If only we’re brave enough to be it
In response to the Inauguration Day, poet Flo Oy Wong wrote this new poem, inspired by Amanda Gorman, America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, and Kamala Harris, the first woman, as well as the first African American and first Asian American, to serve as Vice President of the United States. Kamala means“lotus flower”in Sanskrit.
As a Petal of Hope Takes Shape
In brackish water, hope emerges from a cracked seed like the lotus. In search of light, hope wends itself, stretches towards illumination, waits to dance with dreams. As a petal of hope takes shape it tastes like delectable kindness. It smells sweet like heartfelt compassion. It feels like golden silk stitched to goodness of humankind.
FLO OY WONG, January 5 – 19, 2021
The world premiere performance of Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island” with The Del Sol String Quartet is currently planned for October 2021 on Angel Island.
HEALDSBURG JAZZ is proud to present a FREE family concert titled “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Through the Eyes of Children” on the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Friday, January 15 at 7-8 pm PST and again on Saturday, January 16 at 12-1 pm PST.
The concert is a 1-hour music and spoken word performance inspired by and dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the music of the Civil Rights Movement, presented in collaboration with Stanford‘s King Research & Education Institute, led by Professor Clayborne Carson who was selected in 1985 by Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband.
Artistic Director of Healdsburg Jazz Festival Marcus Shelby has put together a wonderful lineup of performers for the virtual program — vocalists Kim Nalley and Tiffany Austin, Tammy Hall on piano, Genius Wesley on drums, with Healdsburg Jazz Poet Laureate Enid Pickett and youth poet Selma Arapa. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Through the Eyes of Children” was filmed at The Sound Room in Oakland, CA, directed by filmmaker Kevin Johnson.
For Educators, Families, Students: Healdsburg Jazz has also created free downloadable resources, including an independent study guide and fact sheet, a timeline, a playlist of songs, a playlist of speeches, and suggested books and poems about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the music of the Civil Rights era.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on The Soul of The Movement
“An important part of the mass meetings was the freedom songs. In a sense the freedom songs are THE SOUL OF THE MOVEMENT.
They are more than just incantations of clever phrases designed to invigorate a campaign; they are as old as the history of the Negro in America. They are adaptations of songs the slaves sang-the sorrow songs, the shouts for joy, the battle hymns, and the anthems of our movement. I have heard people talk of their beat and rhythm, but we in the movement are as inspired by their words. “Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom” is a sentence that needs no music to make its point. We sing the freedom songs for the same reason the slaves sang them, because we too are in bondage and the songs add hope to our determination that “We shall overcome, Black and white together, we shall overcome someday.” These songs bound us together, gave us courage together, helped us march together. We could walk toward any Gestapo force. We had cosmic companionship, for we were singing, “Come By Me, Lord, Come By Me.”
With this music, a rich heritage from our ancestors who had the stamina and the moral fiber to be able to find beauty in broken fragments of music, whose illiterate minds were able to compose eloquently simple expressions of faith and hope and idealism, we can articulate our deepest groans and passionate yearnings-and end always on a note of hope that God is going to help us work it out, right here in the South where evil stalks the life of a Negro from the time he is placed in his cradle. Through this music, the Negro is able to dip down into wells of a deeply pessimistic situation and danger-fraught circumstances and to bring forth a marvelous, sparkling, fluid optimism. He knows it is still dark in his world, but somehow, he finds a ray of light.”
“FIGURES OF DISCORD SPRING FROM SOUL, reminding us that neither artist nor citizen nor believer ought ever concede their truth in the face of rule or custom…
Ralph Ellison famously claimed for Black music power to curve mind and sense, helping the willing listener to see around corners. Jim Crow, Klan violence, government vacillation and the persistence of war and poverty successively placed hard-angled obstacles before the Movement, demanding an arc of vision that called upon the utmost of imagination and love. The genius of Marcus Shelby, composer, performer, student and citizen, is to teach through artistry, so that we might bend our own sight, and make the worlds we seek to live for.”
— DR. ADAM GREEN, University of Chicago on Marcus Shelby’s Soul of The Movement (2011)
Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a 12 part musical suite that honors the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others who marched and protested for freedom. After 3 years of research, artist residencies, and traveling throughout the south Marcus Shelby composed and orchestrated the music for “Soul of the Movement” for his 15 piece big band orchestra with guest vocalists Faye Carol, Kenny Washington, and Jeannine Anderson and guest instrumentalists Howard Wiley (soprano and tenor sax), Matt Clark (B3 Organ), and Sistah Kee (piano). Soul of the Movement was released in 2011 and has become part of school presentations in and around the San Francisco Bay Area on an annual basis.
Oakland Chinatown-born, NELLIE WONG has published four books: Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park, The Death of Long Steam Lady, Stolen Moments and Breakfast Lunch Dinner. Her poems and essays appear in numerous journals and anthologies. Two pieces are installed at public sites in San Francisco. She’s co-featured in the documentary film, “Mitsuye and Nellie Asian American Poets,” and among her recognitions, a building at Oakland High School is named after her. A poem of hers was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She’s traveled to China in the First American Women Writers Tour with Alice Walker, Tillie Olsen and Paule Marshall, among others. She’s taught poetry writing at Mills College and in Women Studies at the University of Minnesota.
GENNY LIM is San Francisco Jazz Poet Laureate emeritus, born and raised in San Francisco to immigrant parents from the Kwantung region of Toisan, where an oral culture rich with folklore, natural medicine and healing songs was brought to America. The rhythms and music of the Toisan (Hoisan) language, find harmony of expression in the freedom of contemporary jazz and it is there, where Lim’s voice has flourished. She is author of five poetry collections, Winter Place, Child of War, Paper Gods and Rebels, KRA!, La Morte Del Tempo, and co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, winner of the American Book Award and the forthcoming anthology of Senior Asian American memoirs, Window: Glimpses of Our Storied Past. Lim’s award-winning play, Paper Angels, was the first Asian American play that aired on PBS’s American Playhouse in 1985 and has been produced throughout the U.S., Canada and China.
At the age of 9, artist/poet/educator FLO OY WONG, a De Anza College alumni, knew that she loved words. A few years later, say 79 years, she has become a poet who uses English and her parents’ native Chinese dialect to show and to tell her collected stories of family and community. A co-founder of the Asian American Women Artists Association, she has received three National Endowment for the Arts awards. In 2018, Flo celebrated her 80th birthday with the publication of her art & poetry book, Dreaming of Glistening Pomelos. Through her art and poetry she supports those who use their individual and collective voices for social justice. She stands by individuals and organizations who put diversity, equity, and inclusion into practice. As an elder, she connects with younger people who inspire her.
DEL SOL STRING QUARTET
The San Francisco-based DEL SOL STRING QUARTET is a leading force in 21st century chamber music – whether introducing Ben Johnston’s microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress, taking Aeryn Santillan’s gun-violence memorial to the streets of the Mission District, exploring Andean soundscapes with Gabriela Lena Frank and traditional musicians, or collaborating with Huang Ruo and the anonymous poets who carved their words into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station during the years of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Our current lineup, featuring Del Sol founder and Artistic Director Charlton Lee on viola, cellist Kathryn Bates and violinists Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser, looks to bring a fresh energy, freedom, and precision to our diverse repertoire. By bringing the string quartet tradition from its European roots into global traditions, including an emphasis on the Asian continent, Del Sol makes contemporary chamber music a dynamic part of today’s culture. https://www.delsolquartet.com/
JING JING YANG, Cupertino Poet Laureate
JING JING YANG is Cupertino’s sixth Poet Laureate. Jing Jing grew up with a love for poetry, listening to her father recite Chinese classic poetry from the Han, Tang and Song dynasties. Since moving to Cupertino in 2011, Jing Jing has been a part of the City’s poetry community and has enjoyed the programs of previous poet laureates as a creative outlet. Jing Jing aims to help Cupertino become a place where the West meets the East, the past meets the future and its poetic voice be heard around the globe. https://www.cupertino.org/residents/arts-and-culture/cupertino-poet-laureate
GENEVIEVE LEUNG, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
Genevieve Leung is the academic director of the Asian Pacific Studies MA program and director of the Asian Pacific American Studies minor. She has a BA in linguistics from UC Berkeley and dual MA degrees in linguistics (TESOL) and education (Language and Literacy) from UC Davis. She received her PhD in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught high school English in Japan, as well as English writing, effective communication, and reading and vocabulary courses at Stanford University. She was the co-instructor of the TESOL Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania, training novice ESL teachers in the fundamentals of TESOL. Genevieve is also very interested in heritage language maintenance, particularly of Chinese Americans of Cantonese and Toisanese/Hoisan-wa language backgrounds. https://www.usfca.edu/faculty/genevieve-leung
Him Mark Lai; Genny Lim; Judy Yung, eds. Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island. University of Washington Press. June 1999. ISBN 978-0-295-97109-4.
Lim, Genny. Winter Place. Kearney St Workshop Press. ISBN 978-0-9609630-4-1.
Lim, Genny. Child of War. University of Hawaii Press. January 2003. ISBN 978-0-9709597-3-7.
Wong, Flo Oy. Dreaming of Glistening Pomelos. Ling Oy Press. September 2018. ISBN 9781732619807
Wong, Nellie; Merle Woo; Mitsuye Yamada (2003). Three Asian American Writers Speak Out on Feminism. Seattle, Washington: Red Letter Press. ISBN 0-9725403-5-0.
Wong, Nellie (editor) (1999). Yolanda Alaniz (co-editor) (ed.). Voices of Color: Reports from the Front Lines of Resistance by Radicals of Color. Seattle, Washington: Red Letter Press. ISBN 0-932323-05-7.
Wong, Nellie (1997). Stolen Moments. Goshen, Connecticut: Chicory Blue Press. ISBN 1887344039.
Wong, Nellie (1986). The Death of Long Steam Lady. Los Angeles, California: West End Press. ISBN 0-931122-42-2.
Wong, Nellie (1977). Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park: Poems. Berkeley, California: Kelsey St. Press. ISBN 0-932716-14-8.
Voices of Resilience: An online exhibition celebrating the Angel Island Immigration Station’s historic poetry and poems submitted by the public; Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (2020) https://www.aiisf.org/voicesofresilience
Summer vacation provided an interesting opportunity to explore virtual learning with students at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. When the 2019-2020 school ended, students entering the fifth grade were presented with an open invitation to participate in a free summer music workshop with the Del Sol String Quartet. Our stated goal: To work with workshop participants to create a book and recording of an original musical composition for The Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project.”
With a more relaxed summer schedule, the pre-workshop assignments and on-line music workshop were designed to give students a self-driven, hands-on arts exploration over the course of a month. Students were presented with two assignments, in advance of a July 13th online Zoom workshop with the members of Del Sol. The online workshop aimed to create a low-stress experience where the participating students would have fun socially connecting with their peers through musical play.
A Change of Perspective with Digital Photography
The first summer assignment explored digital photography, through a series of prompts, inspired by nine collaborative poems written by the 4th grade class. Using a camera can help to open up new ways of appreciating and enjoying familiar physical surrounds, and the students had been sheltering in place at home since March 13. After confirming that each student had access to a cell phone that would enable them to take digital photos, the workshop participants were presented with nine exercises that would encourage students to explore their everyday surroundings. When we gathered online, it was a fun treat to enjoy seeing each of the individual responses to the same prompt and appreciate the personal way that each photographer addressed the assignment.
A Sonic Scavenger Hunt
The second assignment was inspired by Del Sol musical collaborator, composer Danny Clay, who enjoys creating playful games that help people to create music together. His Sonic Scavenger Hunt calls for students to look for objects at home based on a list of ten sounds types.
An eclectic collection of sounds, gathered at home by Leah:
Students brought their discoveries to the workshop, and together the group explored how their mini-orchestras could be put together into a musical composition. Students were also invited to record three sounds that describe “home,” found either inside their homes or outside. Sound of Home is the resulting collection, preserved for the future on the Internet Archive.
In addition to the sounds gathered at home by 4th graders, another collection, Sound of Home: San Franciscowas recorded from a variety of San Francisco locations,and both collections shared in celebration of World Listening Day 2020. Since 2010, every July 18th, thousands of people all over the world have participated in World Listening Day by sharing soundscapes, in remembrance of renowned Canadian composer, music educator, and author, R. Murray Schafer. His World Soundscape Project developed the fundamental ideas and practices of acoustic ecology in the 1970s.
Teaching artist Andi Wong’s first visit to Angel Island was in 1989, when she and her husband brought her father-in-law Billy back to the island, for the very first time since he was admitted to the United States in February of 1931. Touring the barracks, Billy shared painful childhood memories of being held on the island for 18 days, not knowing when he would be allowed to leave. He sadly recalled how lonely and isolated he felt, especially when evening fell, and the sounds of music and people laughing drifted across the Bay.
The familiar soothing sounds of ocean waves lapping at the shore opens the collaborative musical composition featuring our youth orchestra of found sound. A new poem shared by artist/poet Flo Oy Wong, spoken in the Hoisan-wa dialect of the Angel Island immigrant poets, transitions to the sounds of the Del Sol String Quartet, playing a musical selection from composer Huang Ruo.
九 9 Poems for “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project”
“九 9 poems for Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project,” an online book of the poetry and artwork created by the soon-to-be 5th graders at Dianne Feinstein Elementary, builds upon existing school programming. 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of Author’s Day at DFES, a highly anticipated school event which brings children’s book authors and illustrators to read to children in every classroom. Sadly, this event was cancelled, along with most of the arts events planned for Spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working to help the students to create their own book was a nice way to acknowledge this special school tradition. By archiving the book of student poems, photographs and essays on the Internet Archive for open access and download, this project also offers an example of how bookmaking might be explored by classes in the future. In addition to the students, staff key to the history of the school, the librarian Carol Fuerth and the art teacher Sharon Collins, were also engaged in the project, and the history of their contributions acknowledged, recorded and preserved for the future.
Reflections on Learning: 2019-2020
The Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein Elementary School is as an example of an integrated, expansive artistic collaboration that is possible with community engagement. In a time that calls for both collective imagination and coordinated action, there is great benefit in giving young people the opportunity to learn alongside artists, who model both discipline and adaptability in art and life.
The artistic project also serves as a record of an unusual time, when so much of what was considered to be “normal” changed. There will certainly be challenges ahead in these most uncertain of times, but as students, teachers and families prepare to begin a new school year, we take a moment of reflection to appreciate the lessons that we learned in 2020.
“Since we can’t go to school, I really miss it. I miss DFES, my friends, my teachers, and everything from DFES. I grew up there and can’t believe I used to be in Kindergarten. DFES is important to me because of everything I have learned there.”
In the course of developing this project with the school community, personal connections were made, internal resources discovered, and bridges were built across generations, between school and home. This arts project encouraged and amplified the diverse voices of a school’s community, while recording and preserving community history. Children were presented with a multitude of ways to reflect upon their own personal identities and consider the importance of their family, school and culture, as they created their own works of art. Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School presented an opportunity to see Art as the Ocean, not just as the Island.
And the learning continues…
“Your Wall is Our Canvas: the Angel Island Project,” composed by Huang Ruo and performed by the Del Sol String Quartet with the contemporary chamber choir, Volti, will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. https://www.delsolquartet.com/angelisland
This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundations 50 Arts Commissions, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation. Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein ES, was made possible thanks to an Artists and Communities Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
THE ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION was a global crossroads for immigrants from 80 countries around the world. (An estimated 300,000 people were detained at Angel Island, including 100,000 Chinese, 85,000 Japanese, 8,000 South East Asians, 8,000 Russians and Jews, 1,000 Koreans, and 1,000 Filipinos.) When the doors of the Angel Island Immigration Station shut in 1940, the hundreds of poems carved on the barracks walls by Chinese immigrants were locked inside and forgotten. The poems were rediscovered in 1970 by park ranger Alexander Weiss.
The Angel Island poetry carved into the barrack walls imitates a well-known classical style called “jueju poetry,” developed in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907), when the arts flourished and there were many advancements in the areas of engineering and technology. Perhaps the most important of these, especially in regards to the lives of children today, was the invention of woodblock printing. Woodblock printing allowed books to be printed in mass production. Books helped to increase literacy and to pass on knowledge. It was during this time that poetry became an integral part of the Chinese culture.
In 1976, California appropriated $250,000 for the preservation of the poetry and the building. Today more than 200 poems from the Angel Island barracks have been recorded. Using the latest computer graphics technology, research teams have discovered 172 Chinese poems, 33 graphic images, and 200 inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German and English.
I look forward to the day when the descendants of the one million immigrants who came through Angel Island, including approximately 175,000 Chinese-Americans, can revisit the spot where their ancestors made such great sacrifices for them.
There are few more intimate and personal reminders of our history as immigrants than the poems carved on the walls of the Detention Barracks by those who awaited word on whether they would be admitted into this country.
The Dianne Feinstein ES fourth grade classrooms opened the door to The Angel Island Project on January 16, when the fourth graders were introduced to Angel Island history in a poetry workshop led by teaching artist Andi Wong.
The classroom poetry workshop began with an artifact found in her grandfather’s suitcase, which was used during his travels between China to the United States. As the object was passed from hand to hand around the room, the students were invited to guess what the mysterious object might be, and why would someone might pack this item for an ocean crossing? The student’s keen sense of smell offered an important clue, and the students agreed that this object smelled a lot like cinnamon!
Cinnamon (from far away Toishan)
Scent (wafts from the battered brown)
Suitcase. (Whispers from the)
Island (of Immortals to)
Angels (here on Earth)
Collaborative acrostic poem by Ms. McCullough’s 4th Graders, (with grace notes by Andi)
The fourth graders began by creating acrostic poems inspired by their names and nature, using words to capture and express their impressions of self and nature. The student poems will inspire the creation of a book and a musical composition that will be shared with audiences at the world premiere of Your Wall is Our Canvas.
THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE
Ms. Harrington, Ms. McCullough, and Ms. Rondone’s classes were working on the poetry project, as news began reporting of a COVID-19 pandemic, which required citizens all over the world to shelter in place. In this time, the classroom poetry inspired the grade level auction project, a mirror of words, framed with art created by the fourth graders working with art teacher Sharon Collins. Words and phrases were set in “stone”— stamped into earthen clay, using solar dyes to paint with sunlight in a time of great uncertainty. The visual art piece was created to inspire self-reflection and hopes for a future where Nature and Humanity are in harmony, joined together as One. The community was invited to come to school for an Art Walk on Friday, April 13, the final day on site for the 2020 school year. The work was auctioned to raise much needed funds for school programs.
VOICES OF RESILIENCE
The poetry written by fourth graders in the January 16 workshop at the start of 2020, took on a whole new meaning by March 13th, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed Bay Area schools, ultimately for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Nine collaborative poems from the 4th grade were submitted and selected for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s first virtual exhibition. Voices of Resilience celebrates the 50th anniversary of the re-discovery of over 200 Chinese poems carved into the walls of the detention barracks at the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. The rediscovery triggered a set of efforts to preserve the building, ultimately resulting in the designation of the site as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1997.
The exhibition features a total of 55 poems including 22 historical poems and 33 contemporary poems selected from online submissions from the general public. In addition to the fourth grade DFES student work, the contemporary poems included contributions from former Angel Island detainees, their descendants, including The Last Hoisan Poets – Island author Genny Lim, Nellie Wong and Flo Oy Wong – and an anthology by the Sato/Bukowski/ Haechler Family. The online exhibition ran from May 1 through through June 30, 2020, where the poems remain on the walls of the AIISF’s website archives — Voices of Resilience to be discovered by future visitors.
“At a time when there are significantly increased reports of anti-Asian harassment and assaults related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt important to AIISF’s Board and Staff to continue to ensure that the histories and stories related to the immigrant detention at Angel Island are not forgotten. Our hope is that Voices of Resilience serves a reminder of the empathy, connection, and resiliency that is important especially in times like this.” stated AIISF Executive Director Edward Tepporn.
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from The Drum Major Instinct, (1968)
In the future, it is hoped that the Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will premiere on the island. The new Angel Island Immigration Museum, the former Public Health Service hospital, will open in the future, allowing visitors to apply history’s lessons to nurture civil society and protect civil rights. The AIISF Virtual Gala, “Celebrating Our Dreams, Imagining Our Future,”takes place online on August 19, 2020. The event is free to attend, so please spread the word among your friends and family members. We can all help to ensure that the important histories and stories related to the former U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island are not forgotten, especially at a time when we are seeing increasing discrimination and attacks against Asians and other immigrant groups.
The 2020 Spirit of Angel Island award will acknowledge the dedication and service of California State Park Interpreter, Casey Dexter-Lee. For the past 20 years, Casey has worked on Angel Island, teaching the Immigration Station’s history to thousands of visitors, while also supporting the various programs and restoration efforts at the site.
In the same spirit, the young artists at DFES are using sound and images to communicate their ideas and emotions and inspire action and movement towards a more just society. The Breaking Barriers” assembly on Monday, January 13 with composer/bassist Marcus Shelby marked the 25th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by kicking off the fifth annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive led by the DFES student council to benefit homeless children in San Francisco. Students gathered at lunch time to process books donations by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers. The 2020 Blake Mini Library Breaking Barrier’s collection was created based on community donations and student reading recommendations.
Lunchtime origami workshops were also held to teach children how to fold tsuru, paper cranes symbolizing peace, compassion, hope and healing. In the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding (origami), the crane is a popular, easy-to-learn figure that children and adults of all abilities can create. At lunchtime, working together until our last day of gathering on the schoolyard, the children folded hundreds of cranes of all sizes and colors, in response to a call to action by Tsuru for Solidarity. All can contribute to the project which aims to fold 525,000 cranes, equalling the number of immigrants incarcerated annually. A community gesture to show that immigrant children, youths, families and other detainees seeking safety in our country will not be forgotten.
The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.