Angel Island Insight #8: Megan & Chris Wong

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. 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 that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.

MEGAN and CHRIS WONG’s grandfathers were held in the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. In 1929, Edmund Fong (Gung Gung) arrived in the belly of his mother Wun Shee Fong, who was five months pregnant. Gew Thet Wong (Ye Ye) arrived on Angel Island in 1931.

In 2021, the siblings offer their behind-the-scenes portrait of Beloved Community for Angel Island Insight.

Angel Island Insight. Directed and Edited by Chris Wong. 2021.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #3: Lenore Chinn

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. 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 that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.

Photo: Lenore Chinn. Angel Island Immigration Station Dedication Ceremony for The Immigrant Heritage Wall. July 23, 2011. 
Photo: Lenore Chinn. Angel Island Immigration Station Dedication Ceremony for The Immigrant Heritage Wall. July 23, 2011. 

“Quite a few years ago I was with Flo Oy Wong and family during a 2000 opening of her art exhibit, made in usa: Angel Island Shhh at the Angel Island Immigration Station.

I couldn’t find any image files from that far back. But today I came across a set I had taken years later on the occasion of a dedication there on July 23, 2011. Again, I was there with Flo and family and quite a few notables from our Chinese American community, like Buck Gee, Board President of AIISF, musician Frances Wong and photographer Frank Jang. Historian Judy Yung, who died last month, was in attendance.”

— Lenore Chinn, January 17, 2021


Lenore Chinn
by Mia Nakano, ©Visibility Project. https://www.visibilityproject.org/

LENORE CHINN

I am a San Francisco based artist who focuses on the depiction of a wide spectrum of people in all their diversity and color.

Portraiture is at the core of my visual art practice whether it is painting or photography – both are employed in my creative process.

A moment in time spontaneously captured by my digital bridge camera, transmitted to acrylic on canvas, conveyed in modern archival print or Shared on Facebook, these images document everyday life.

As a body of work they are visual narratives that constitute an art history largely hidden from the public’s perception of society and our particular collective experience.

My focus as a photographer is capturing images and documenting cultural landscapes from a painter’s point of view.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #1 : AIISF & Del Sol Quartet

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. 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 that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


“While there are inscriptions by immigrants from many different nations that can still be found on the walls of the detention barracks, it’s the 200+ poems left behind by Chinese detainees that helped to save the site’s buildings from being torn down and that secured the site’s status as both a California Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. These poems give us a glimpse into the emotions and experiences of immigrants who were held in detention then.”

Edward Tepporn, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation


Photo: Edward Tepporn. Angel Island Chinese Monument. July 20, 2019.

ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION FOUNDATION (AIISF) raises awareness of the experience of Immigration into America through the Pacific. AIISF collects and preserves the rich stories and personal journeys of thousands of immigrants and shares them with visitors and everyone living in America through education initiatives and public programs. The Angel Island Immigration Station reminds us of the complicated history of immigration in America. It serves as a symbol of our willingness to learn from our past to ensure that our nation keeps its promise of liberty and freedom.

Photo: Russell Nauman. Return to Angel Island – Calvin Ong (Ong Doon). June 26, 2021.

In 1937, ten-year-old Calvin Ong (Ong Doon) was detained on Angel Island by immigration officials on his way into the country. Eighty-four years later—on June 26, 2021—Calvin returned to the U.S. Immigration Station with his family. He briefly spoke about his time as a detainee, and a hospital patient, on Angel Island. 

In this photo, Calvin was looking out the window of the former immigration hospital when he noticed the hillside below. He could remember sitting on the hill and watching the ferry arrive with new immigrants each day. Later, we went outside so Calvin could look out over the water with his children and grandchildren.

— Russell Nauman, Operations Manager, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation


THE DEL SOL QUARTET revels in the risk of constantly reimagining the string quartet, building community around art, artistic process, our environment and our culture. Supported by the nonprofit Del Sol Performing Arts Organization (DSPAO), the Del Sol Quartet shares living music with an ever-growing community of adventurous listeners.

Committed to advancing art’s place in society and providing access to a diverse range of audience, the Quartet focuses on commissioning and performing new works, forming unusual and provocative collaborations, and sharing its work globally through recording and education projects.

THE ANGEL ISLAND ORATORIO PROJECT fits squarely into Del Sol’s tradition of adventurous collaborations between artists and community organizations to create new work with a lasting place in the repertoire and to broaden audiences. These goals are integrally connected to shared experiences and socially-relevant themes. The oratorio provides a new way of examining immigration and the clash between governmental policies and national ideals — relevant both to our history and our current political climate. The work also reflects our individual values of what it means to be American, the stories of how we got here, and the history of our city and state.

Photo: Kathryn Bates, View on Island. 2021.
Photo: Edward Tepporn. Angel Island Immigration Station Barracks. July 20, 2019.
Photo: Kathryn Bates. View of Island. March 13, 2021.
Photo: Kathryn Bates. View from Island. March 13, 2021.
Photo: Edward Tepporn. Hope. Angel Island. June 16, 2019.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

USAAF 2021: Angel Island Insight

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 – Oratorio for 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

Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s United States of Asian American Festival 2021 presents ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT with The Last Hoisan Poets & Del Sol Quartet

The Last Hoisan Poets & Del Sol Quartet

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.

Recording of 5/22/21 APIIC USAAF presents: ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT with The Last Hoisan Poets and Del Sol Quartet

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.

For more information, please visit https://www.delsolquartet.com/angelislandinsight


This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org

The Peach Tree

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.”

insects
pollinate now
wasps lady bug bees buzz
on sunflowers milkweed grapevines
near by

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.

Flo Oy Wong reads her poem, “Robust Peaches 2”
Robust Peaches 2
Robust peaches, 
kissed by the sun,  
grow by a low concrete 
wall at the neighborhood 
school.

Robust peaches.

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. 

Robust peaches.

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.

Robust peaches.

FLO OY WONG
July 29, 2021

Unidentified Artist An Immortal on a Cloud with a Pair of Peaches, 20th century China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Leaf from an album; ink on paper; H. 9 11/16 in. (24.6 cm); W. 12 in. (30.5 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Fritzi and Murray Sanders, 1984 (1984.492.1) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/51866

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.

The peach tree is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000–7000 BP.

Various American Indian tribes are credited with migrating the peach tree across the United States, taking seeds along with them and planting as they roved the country. Today, California produces 65 percent of the total US crop of peaches.

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 Spring is 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.

WikiHow: How to Start a Peach Tree from a Pit / How to Plant a Peach Tree

Peach (Prunus persica)

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.

Two Poems, One Struggle

WORLD POETRY DAY celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity.

Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.

Yesterday, I received two poems, from two friends who struggled to find the words.

I share their poems today, in observance of WORLD POETRY DAY.

Pools of Red

Gunshots pierced the air,

then landed in bodies

of mostly Asian women

working at the spa.

One by one, the women

crashed.  

They screeched.

Crumpled to the floor,

which colored crimson. 

Moist fresh blood. 

Pools of red.

Creating shadows 

of death.

Bloody. 

No more plasma.

No more lifeblood.

To take a breath.

Killer shot them because

of his alleged sex addiction.

They were Asian women.

Targets in my homeland.

Open season it appears, 

to spit at, to harass, to tackle,

to attack.

I am Asian (american) woman.

FLO OY WONG

March 20, 2021

They’d Done Them Wrong

Six sisters linked not by birth, but death.

they were reared under the wrong signs

wrong place or time. Maybe that

the parents were at fault.

Of a skin color of the wrong choice.

Born with it. Some men didn’t care

why would they? Money

gave pleasure to their flesh.

No one wants to be down low

And miserable. I use to think

only women understand pain

like they each other could feel.

I shed a tear, and die inside.

Who dealt them the wrong deck of cards?

Money, skin, sin, and all those righteous themes.

All the wrong reasons for a killing spree.

VICTOR YAN

March 20, 2021

On the occasion of World Poetry Day 2021, Director-General AUDREY AZOULAY of UNESCO writes, “Poetry lies at the heart of who we are as women and men, living together today, drawing on the heritage of past generations, custodians of the world for our children and grandchildren.”

Deepest gratitude to Flo Oy Wong and Victor Yan for sharing their poetry and friendship.

Stop AAPI Hate

Our communities stand united against racism. Hate against Asian American Pacific Islander communities has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together, we can stop it.

In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center on March 19, 2020. The center tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Encourage those who experience or witness acts of hate towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to report an incident at our website. The reporting form is available in 11 languages. Reporting incidents helps us understand what is happening and guides us in developing policies to advocate for.

https://stopaapihate.org/actnow/

Slow Street Art

Over the years, the ArtsEd4All crew has enjoyed supporting Sunday Streets events. We really get excited about Poetry and All Things Slow, and are always happy to contribute some Cheap Art. Special thanks to Joanie Juster for the connection and to Alec Hawley for the invitation to participate in the Slow Street Art Hunt! The Slow Streets event is also fun lead in to Total SF Movie Night #8 – a virtual screening of Always Be My Maybe, so be sure to grab some popcorn-to-go to enjoy with the film at home.

Ride N’ Roll Slow Street Art Hunt

We are looking forward to the Ride N’ Roll Slow Street Art Hunt on Saturday, February 13 in the Richmond District. The event will start at 1 pm at Green Apple Books with poetry by Mark J. Mitchell and end with Norton the It’s It at the Balboa Theater at 3pm. Come out and support local businesses and participate in an art hunt highlighting artwork and poetry. You will have a great time, come rain or shine!

Slow Art Hunt: A4All Memory Cards

For the Slow Art Hunt, we have created a set of twelve cards that are inspired by the places in the Richmond District that we love.

Each ArtsEd4All notecard features art and poetry that is inspired by the Slow Streets Art movement in the Richmond District. The cards share stories and and things that we have learned as we have explored the neighborhood over the years.

We are really grateful that this event gave us an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful times spent in the Richmond District. We are excited to share some love for our favorite places — Argonne Community Garden, Balboa Theater, C: Landing Arts, California Academy of Sciences, De Young Museum, E.Y. Lee Kung Fu School, Four Star Theatre with pre-film dim sum and post-film noodle houses, Healing Arts Studio, Internet Archive, Japanese Tea Gardens, Land’s End, Mountain Lake, Ocean Beach, Presidio Middle School and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.

Look on the back of each card for a QR code that launches to a poetry reading, a song or a film. Scan the QR code with a code reader app or use your iPhone camera to access this special content.

If you find one of our art memory cards inside a pre-stamped envelope on Slow Streets, we hope that you will enjoy the art, poems and our memories of good times in the Richmond District. When you are ready, please use the card to send love and poetry to a friend.

The ArtsEd4All crew of contributors to this project include Andi Wong, Flo Oy Wong, Janice Fong, Judy Toupin, Mara Grimes, Mary Ann Cruz, Norma Diana Rodriguez, Victor Yan, featuring audio contributions by the 4th grade poets at Diane Feinstein Elementary and the Del Sol String Quartet, Brenda Wong Aoki of First Voice, and Blake Ansari and the Open Library readers at the Internet Archive.

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can transform one million realities.” — Maya Angelou

Since 2016, ArtsEd4All has organized an annual book drive for the Blake Mini Library in the Hamilton Families shelter. School children are invited to help fill the rainbow-colored shelves from MLK Day of Service through Valentine’s Day. With our first book drive, we started a tradition of writing and hiding “Notes of Encouragement.” Book donors and children were invited to contribute special surprise messages that were hidden inside the books to be discovered by a future reader. The reading and writing of these notes helped create a special bond between two people who might never ever meet — the donor and the recipient. Over the years, lovely notes of encouragement have been written at special author signings at Green Apple Books.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, space and capacity at the shelter is a concern, and school is not in session, so we will not be able to have the book drive as usual this year. Sharing these Memory Cards on Slow Streets helps us to hold onto this ritual of kindness in a time of change.

However, Hamilton Families confirmed that we can be a great help with a Spanish language children’s book drive for the shelter and Transitional Housing Program. Please get in touch, if you would like to recommend Spanish Language book titles or you are interested in purchasing a book.

Here’s a book that we’d really like to include in this year’s delivery:

Milo imagina el mundo
By MATT DE LA PEÑA
Illustrated by CHRISTIAN ROBINSON

For There is Always Light

Today, January 21st is National Angel Island Day.

On this day, we take time to remember the stories, events, and people from the Immigration Station’s 111-year history.

“An Island Light” Angel Island, in sight; January 21, 2021

The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light

— from The Changing Light, by LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation declaring January 21st as National Angel Island Day.

“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

22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman, America’s first Youth Poet Laureate

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

— from The Hill We Climb, by AMANDA GORMAN

“A Sea We Must Wade” Angel Island, in sight; January 21, 2021

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

Dancing with Dreams: Angel Island, in sight; January 21, 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.