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

Simple Gifts

In celebration of World Kindness Day, we would like to share some holiday gift ideas, inspired by our ArtsEd4All family.

Our post-screening community conversation on October 24th inspired us to offer another dose of THE ANTIDOTE. This time, we are sharing some new stories and Simple Gifts from our ArtsEd4All family. It is our hope that the film will inspire others to put their own creative ideas into action, or even better – offer your support to someone else who can use a helping hand. Start small and put your whole hands, heart and mind into whatever you choose to do. Thanks for joining us. We wish you love, kindness and creativity this holiday season!

#1: SHARING LOVE, ART & KINDNESS — “YOU ARE LOVED”

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It’s always special to receive a surprise package in the mail. Andi’s day was brightened when she opened the box to find a beautifully radiant painting, “You Are Loved,” from artist Crystal Vielula inside. Crystal’s thoughtful gift of art is especially special and precious to Andi because of the special story behind the painting. If you would enjoy supporting an artist’s campaign of kindness, Crystal is holding a “YOU ARE LOVED” print sale. 100% of the profits will be donated to Black and Queer Groceries, a mutual aid organization that is delivering groceries to black and queer people in need in the Bay Area. Visit Crystal’s website for more info: https://www.crystalvielula.com/you-are-loved-print-pre-sale.html.

#2: KNIT TOGETHER — HELP STANDING ROCK STAY WARM IN WINTER

Winter has arrived, and the weather is turning cold. So when Gail shared that the Auntie Sewing Squad was organizing a Warm Coat and Extreme Cold Gear Drive for Standing Rock and Black Hills, we visited their website to see how to help. ArtsEd4All enjoys a great knitting project, so pull out your circular looms, it’s time to make some woolen beanies! Join the Aunties and help protect our friends at Standing Rock and those living on ancestral homeland in the Black Hills who are facing below zero temperatures this winter. When you are ready to send your items, check the Auntie Sewing Squad website for mailing addresses and visit Native-Land.ca, a website dedicated to helping people across the world learn more about their local Indigenous history. DIY TUTORIAL: How to loom knit a hat (super easy for beginners) https://youtu.be/BonWux0A2yM

#3: REMEMBER TO LOOK UP — WALKING “UNDER ONE SKY”

A trio of friends – Flo, Andi and Mara – first began walking together “Under One Sky” back in July with The 2020 Global Slow Marathon, a global art project launched in Scotland with artist Iman Tajik asking the question, “What is Solidarity?” The Slow Marathon is done, but The Skywalker FAM is still walking, lifting eyes and cameras to the skies with gratitude for each beautiful day of blue. Like the shape-shifting clouds that we observe daily, The Skywalker FAM collective photo album is ever-changing. Some days, a photo appears with a poem or a song, and we always welcome new members into the family. Please send your sky pics to sfgreenandblue@gmail.com.

#4: GO GREEN — “SUCCULENT CITY”

Make your garden grow! One of the most beautiful visions realized during our time at The Studio at Mayeda was giving children a bit of Earth to call their own. With resourcefulness and care, the students were able to establish a small container garden of fruits & vegetables and succulents on the school’s rooftop. Have you ever saved and sprouted the seeds from your apple at lunch? Or tried to propagate succulents from a leaf or a cutting? Growing something of your own easy and fun. With some added research into the native plants in your area, you will get to know your neighbors – the birds, bees, butterflies – as Norma did when she helped to create a pollinator garden for PAWS (Pets Art Wonderful Support). Who knows, as your garden grows, you might even make a new friend who love trees as much as you do!

#5: FEED A NEED — BAKE SOME DOUGH

Whether you are making dough for bread or for art, there are so many wonderful ways to get creative with just a little flour, salt and water, and it’s easy to make a little bit extra to share. Our friends Joanie & Mark know that a good bake can go a long way. While Mark has been treating listeners to readings from Roshi, his new book of poems inspired by San Francisco, Joanie has been making her own kind of music in the kitchen, Their lucky friends have enjoyed the gift of her tasty zucchini loaf, garlic onion foccaccia and a festive holiday assortment of #PoetryAndCookies. Over the years, ArtsEd4All has kept Ruth Asawa’s bakers clay recipe handy, making loads of dough for holiday keepsakes and collaborative art pieces with generations of school children. Resourceful makers in San Francisco go to the Scroungers Center for Re-Usable Art Parts aka SCRAP, the non-profit creative reuse center founded in 1976 by Ruth Asawa & Anna Marie Theilen, two resourceful women who knew how to make their materials go a long way. You can support SCRAP by attending Ruth Asawa: Through the Eyes of Her Children, a virtual conversation about the legacy and impact of the renowned San Francisco-based artist, on November 19, 7-8pm PST. Mention SCRAP when you donate items to the Community Thrift Store in San Francisco, and SCRAP will receive a monetary donation.

#6: WASTE NOT, WANT NOT — SEW A “MAGIC BAG”

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Kamilla, a former student recently reached out, wondering if we might be able to share the instructions for how to sew a “magic bag.” When she was in middle school, Kamilla and her friends all learned how to sew these cloth bags with Ms. Toupin at The Studio at Mayeda, in order to reduce the use of plastic bags at school. Ms. Toupin was thrilled to hear Kamilla’s special request and worked up the instructions for anyone who might enjoy a crafty way to cut down their plastic use. Try making your own to give out as gifts to friends. Instructions for Ms. Toupin’s DIY Magic Bag: https://archive.org/details/ms-toupin-diy-magic-bag/mode/2up

#7: SPREAD JOY — THE DEL SOL STRING QUARTET & THE JOY PROJECT

Music is good medicine that can spread joy, build human connections and bring us out into nature —The Del Sol String Quartet is bringing THE JOY PROJECT, free concerts in public settings around the Bay Area, where people can enjoy the music while safely practicing social distancing in the open air. Del Sol has commissioned a body of very short pieces written to give joy, by composers ranging from classical- music lions to young students and non-classical figures. Legendary composer Terry Riley responded with the rainbow arrow that has become the project logo. Join Del Sol’s “Joy list” for the latest information regarding locations and times to hear Del Sol play.

#8: DO YOUR DANCE — THE “FAM DANCE JAM”

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We all try to do our best to get out an exercise, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up with a fun alternative. When artist/poet Flo Oy Wong turned 82, she told her friends Mara and Andi that she really wanted to celebrate with a dance party. We have such fond memories of celebrating Flo’s 75th Birthday with dancing in the street in 2013. This time, we made Flo a special 2020 Birthday Dance Megamix and set a date on Zoom. We boogied for twenty minutes non-stop and had such a good time that we are already planning the next dance party. This time, Flo can’t wait to invite her family to join the JAM. Celebrate good times with the people who make your heart dance! Work off a bit of that holiday meal and savor a slightly bigger slice of pie with your Sistas!

#7: SING OUT — EQUAL JUSTICE SOCIETY “HARRIET TUBMAN”

Composer/bassist Marcus Shelby uses music to share the history, present, and future of African American lives. “Harriet Tubman: Through the Eyes of Children” honors the 20th year anniversary of the Equal Justice Society, with a musical soundtrack featuring vocalist Tiffany Austin and the Marcus Shelby Quintet. The film, directed by Kevin D. Johnson, Jr., tells the story of how Harriet Tubman has inspired young black girls to use their voices to fight for justice and equality during the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd protests summer of 2020 in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic. Share the gift of music and support the artists whose efforts help wider audiences to understand social justice issues and struggles.

#9: COLOR YOUR WORLD — “THIS ABILITY” MURAL

Steve Porter the artist works big. His mural projects seem to grow exponentially with each new attempt… 48’… 88’… Steve’s newest project is around 145 feet long! Sometimes, Steve lets his imagination run wild, working for days on end, before inviting the public to add the color as they did on One Spring Day.” But while working in the schools in Shreveport, Louisiana, Steve Porter the art teacher set his sights on an even bigger challenge — How to involve all the children who had not previously had the chance to participate? With the support of teachers and paraprofessionals, the children shared their talents when they created the 360′ long This Ability” Mural. Steve says, “I believe that we all have the ability to make a positive difference in a child’s life. When given the opportunity to do something, then do it — advocate for, speak for, and fight for those that are so often overlooked.”

#11: SHARE YOUR STORY — “BLAKE MINI LIBRARY”

In 2016, young Blake Ansari constructed and donated a rainbow-colored mini-library to the students at Rooftop School who, in turn, assembled and donated the library to the Hamilton Families shelter in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. For the past 5 years, ArtsEd4All has hosted the annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive, inviting San Francisco school children to join Blake in his efforts to bring the joy of reading to homeless children. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic will require an alternative approach. This year, please share your love of reading by purchasing a book or two through the ArtsEd4All Bookshop. The Bookshop affiliate program pays a 10% commission on every sale, and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores. All ArtsEd4All Bookshop proceeds from MLK Day to Valentine’s Day will be applied to the purchase of a special delivery of books for the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families shelter. Antigone reminds us that we must support our local bookshops and video stores, with her story of kindness, an appreciation of artist Michael McConnell, and Faye’s a tiny, magical local establishment that deserves to stay alive and thrive.

#12: SMILE MORE — “BLUE MIND” & BLUE MARBLE SMILES

“To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo di Vinci.

The Blue Marbles Project set out to pass a blue marble through every (yes, every) person’s hand on earth, along with a simple message of gratitude. This slow-motion global art project is a clear reminder that everything we do on this little blue planet matters. Through art, science and technology, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is helping people to better understand the true value of water. “J” collaborates with a dedicated network of Blue Mind ambassadors, including Margaret, who is using her tech expertise to show that a smile really can create a ripple effect of kindness. Blue Mind research shows that nature is therapeutic, promotes general health and well-being, and blue space in both urban and rural settings further enhances and broadens cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, physical, and spiritual benefits. “This deep biological connection has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we’re near water. In fact, the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation. Thanks to science, we’re now able to connect the dots to the full range of emotional benefits being on, in, or near the water can bring.” Our mission is clear: see to it that all people understand, have access to and practice Blue Mind wherever they are, because water is medicine for our bodies and minds. Our waters are a gift that we must work together to protect, as we are reminded after this tragic fire season that has upended so many lives, including that of The Nichols Family.

Do you know someone who would like to help to create a groundswell of support for Blue Mind? You can support J on Patreon, and give the gift of Science. Sign up as a patron at any level, starting at $1/month ($12/year).

ArtsEd4All would also like to express our thanks to The Antidote Team for allowing us to share their beautiful and inspiring film, THE ANTIDOTE with our community.

K    Kindness

I      Integrity

N     Necessary

D     Disseminate 

N      Niceness

E      Everywhere

S     Soothing 

S      Strength

— FLO OY WONG, November 14, 2020

Cupertino Poet Laureate Presents Saturday Poetry Penpals: A Hoisan-Wa Talk Story


Program Welcome & Introductions – JING JING YANG, Cupertino Poet Laureate

An Introduction to Hoisan-WaGENEVIEVE LEUNG, Associate Professor, USF

A HOISAN-WA “TALK STORY”

NELLIE WONG

My Two Hearts

Two Tickets Please

Musical Interlude by DEL SOL STRING QUARTET

“a popular tune” by Jungyoon Wie

GENNY LIM

Immigrants

The Only Language She Knows

End of an Era

Musical Interlude by DEL SOL STRING QUARTET

an excerpt from Huang Ruo’s “a dust in time.”

FLO OY WONG

Loy Coy, Come Here

Ai Joong Wah, Great China


THE LAST HOISAN POETS

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

PUBLICATIONS

  • 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. Breakfast Lunch Dinner: Poems. Meridien Press Works, 2012.
  • 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.

ONLINE RESOURCES

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

“Sound of Home” Summer Learning with the Del Sol String Quartet

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 Francisco was 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.

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.

Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein ES

ISLANDS & WALLS

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.

Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Angel Island Bill, April 28, 2005

NAMES & NATURE

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)

Ancestors (uprooted)

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

Fifty years ago, Alexander Weiss found long-lost poems carved into the detention barracks walls. This discovery led to the Angel Island Immigration Station’s rebirth as a National Historic Landmark

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 PoetsIsland 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.

BREAKING BARRIERS

“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.

“My Story, Your Book” – DFES Family Art Night 2

On Monday, January 27, 2020 at Family Art Night #2 with the Del Sol String Quartet, the families at Dianne Feinstein Elementary went on an “Imaginary Journey” with storytelling and bookmaking.

The quartet wove a musical thread though the evening, opening and closing the evening with composer Huang Ruo’s string quartet No. 3, “Calligraffitti.”

From “The Chinese Knew” by Tillie S. Pine and Joseph Levine, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, published in 1958. https://archive.org/details/chineseknew00pine

We also introduced author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats and the annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking project at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, encouraging students to try make their own books. We shared news about the ongoing Blake Mini Library Book Drive benefitting the Hamilton Families shelter program in the Tenderloin, and shared news of the upcoming Author’s Day at DFES. The families learned how to do traditional Chinese bookbinding Cheryl Ball and Cheryl Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow.

Thank you to Mara, Patrick, Angela, Cynthia and Chae for the helping hands and set up with the #meatlessmonday spread. Lion love to Dr. Zaki, the DFES PTA Board and all of the DFES families who supported this community evening of creativity.

This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Dianne Feinstein ES Family Art Night #2 with The Del Sol String Quartet

DFES Family Art Night #2 — “MY STORY – YOUR BOOK”

Monday, January 27, 2020; 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Dianne Feinstein ES Multipurpose Room

The second of four DFES Family Art Nights with the Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project will explore the importance of storytelling and the written word through the art of bookmaking. Cheryl Ball and C.K. Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow will teach us how to make our own books, and The Del Sol String Quartet will play!

In celebration of the 8th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Project, we’ll also consider the role that children’s books play in sharing the important stories and historical contributions of all Americans.

A light dinner is provided with the PTA meeting from 5:30pm – 6:00pm. 

Pictured from left to right: Traditional Chinese bookbinding, art from The Chinese Knew by Ezra Jack Keats (1958); art by Chris Sasaki from Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong: Immigrant and Artist (2019)

Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, these family evenings with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

“Honoring Our Ancestors” – DFES Family Art Night 1

The first DFES Family Art Night with the Del Sol String Quartet introduced the Angel Island Project, teaching artist Andi Wong and the members of the Del Sol String Quartet to the Dianne Feinstein ES community. The Del Sol String QuartetCharlton Lee (viola), Kathryn Bates (cello), Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser (violin) – got the evening off to a great start with a musical introduction. Everyone, adults and children, were invited to get up on their feet for an easy stroll around the room. Listening to the music, participants were invited to making contact, with smiles, head nods, touching feet, and secret handshakes in a traveling warm up to “G Song” by Terry Riley.

Andi offered a brief introduction to the history of Angel Island. Angel Island offers an important lesson on how stories and art have helped to carry historical information forward to the future. In 1970, Ranger Alexander Weiss re-discovered the poetry carved by immigrants into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. The poems were translated and preserved in the 1980 book, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by Mark Him Lai, Genny Lim and Judy Yung, and the Chinese-American community worked together to preserve and protect this important historical site for future generations of Americans.

Families conducted a four question oral history interview. Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Based on the responses, parents worked with their children to write a simple poem on the theme of family.

Resolute in her faith, 
watching the wine dark sea. Her face
to the wind. Loving God.
Black as Night, bright as Light, she stands.

The J-H Family remembers a powerful strong woman who baked a great sweet potato pie.

We sing the family song.
We speak out Spanish language.
We visit our family in El Salvador and call.

The P-B Family remembers their family's arrival in the USA

As Del Sol performed Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov, the children were invited to collaborate on work of art, an evening sky mural. Golijov’s composition finds hope and wonder in a world upended by war, when he visits the New York City planetarium with his five-year-old son, who sees the earth for the very first time — a “pale blue dot” in the vast cosmos.

In closing, we shared a wonderful opportunity to conduct an oral history interview. StoryCorps “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a national movement that empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire using the free StoryCorps App. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Thanks to Megan Wong and Patrick Wu for helping to set up our workshop materials (heavy-lifting those giant pumpkins donated by family farmer Todd Fong of Elk Grove) and serving our Thanksgiving-themed #meatlessmonday dinner. Lion love to Dr. Salwa Zaki, Rory McMahon for the tech support and DFES PTA Board support from Angela Rosoff, Cynthia Inaba and Chae Reed. Most of all, thanks to the DFES families who helped to make this first community evening of creativity a big success.

When the event was done, those who wanted a pumpkin were welcomed to take one home to enjoy. We brought the biggest of the giant pumpkins down to Pescadero to share with Dan Sudran, founder of Mission Science Workshop and the Community Science Workshop Network. Dan introduced us to his friend Gabriel, a valued team member of Puente, who knows a lot about bees and seeds.

The best way to keep going and growing is to share the learning with others!

This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Dianne Feinstein ES Family Art Night #1 with The Del Sol String Quartet

“HONORING OUR STORIES – OUR ANCESTORS”

Monday, November 18, 2019; 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Dianne Feinstein ES Multipurpose Room

The Del Sol String Quartet: Ben Kreith, Charlton Lee, Kathryn Bates, Sam Weiser. photo: by Lenny Gonzalez

Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, a series of four Family Art Nights have been planned with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong. These family evenings will introduce the Del Sol String Quartet as musical neighbors who are ready to play well with others. Together, we will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.

Our first DFES Family Art Night will introduce THE ANGEL ISLAND PROJECT and the members of THE DEL SOL STRING QUARTET, who will play especially for us. Participants will learn how to conduct an oral history interview, and use the Story Corps app. Families will also collaborate on a work of art that honors our ancestors.

A suitcase filled with stories on Angel Island.

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.