Here to Stay: Housing for the People Mapping project

 In 2019, with support from the Laundromat Project and additional funding from the LMCC Creative Engagement Program and the Magnum Foundation, CAB launched the Here to Stay: Housing for the People Mapping Project, a collaborative, critical mapping project centered on place-keeping efforts in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Here to Stay is a bilingual multimedia project featuring short video and audio testimonials from tenants who are directly impacted by displacement. This community-led and curated project currently features a large-scale mural map of Chinatown for the storefront office space of CAAAV; a bilingual timeline of CAAAV’s activism in the community across 3 decades and 9 video augments produced by CAB media artists ManSee Kong, Anna Ozbek and Betty Yu that highlight the history of tenant resilience and activism in NY Chinatown.

CAB believes this project will be an opportunity for immigrant and US born Chinatown working class tenants, as well as students and activists to contribute to the critical mapping of their neighborhood and develop the content for this project through a process of community curation and action research.


What is Here is Open: Selections From  the Treasures in the Trash Collection

For over 30 years, Nelson Molina worked for the NYC Department of Sanitation as a sanitation worker. While he worked, he found many objects on his route. As over 40,000 objects amassed, Molina created the Treasures in the Trash Collection inside the DSNY’s  garage.  What is Here is Open: Selections from the Treasures in the Trash Collection is an exhibition that places works by seven New York City based contemporary visual artists alongside a selection of Molina’s found objects.These ephemeral installations at the Hunter East Harlem Gallery blur the lines between art, memory and archive and take on both an anthropological and artistic resolve that rests in community’s vision of itself. “What is Here is Open both explores and challenges historical power in mainstream art and cultural institutions by asking: Who gets to select what art is, and who can create the spaces that house it? “ --Alician Grullon, curator

Curated by Alicia Grullon and Nelson Molina. Exhibiting artists: Tomie Arai, Dominque Duroseau, Maria Hupfield, Coronado Print Collective: Pepe Coronado, Leslie Jimenez, Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez, Shellyne Rodriguez.  Hunter East Gallery, NYC 2019

CTRL+ALT: Culture Lab

For this 2 day pop-up exhibition of over 30 artists and scholars,the Chinatown Art Brigade presented Here to Stay, a drop in workspace and series of workshops about NY Chinatown.  Over 10,000 people visited the exhibition on November 12 and 13, 2016, which was held in the former home of the Pearl River Mart, Chinatown's largest department store. 

In addition to agit-prop workshops, members of the Brigade projected messages about the future of Chinatown both inside and outside the former Pearl River Mart space.  Two films created specifically for the installation were on view, highlighting the work of the Brigade and the activist history of the Chen family, owners of the Pearl River Mart store.  The River Rolls On, produced by ManSee Kong featured an in-depth interview with the family and historical footage that chronicled several decades of life in NY Chinatown. By creating an intentional space for dialogue, engagement and creativity in Chinatown, the project amplified the importance of preserving and protecting the diverse communities that are so central to the cultural life of the city.

Sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Center of the Smithsonian Institution.



Mixed media, photographs from Ana Mendieta’s Silhueta Series, sound, video, silkscreened wood panels, aquarium, silkscreens, 15th Century scroll on loan from Columbia University’s rare book collection. Dimensions variable.

Installation for the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY, 2006

Site-specific multi media installation created in conversation with the work of Ana Mendieta; commissioned by the Bronx Museum of the Arts for the Conversations with the Permanent Collection Project.  As part of the installation, the artist was present in the gallery, printing and retelling the popular Japanese folktale, Urashima Taro.  Chapters from the story of Urashima were printed onto the pages of catalogues and magazine advertisements and several hundred silkscreened prints were given away to visitors during the exhibition run. Retold as an immigrant’s story Urashima became a commentary on the manipulation of desire. The installation served as a space in which to explore the complex narratives of diasporic movements across the globe.

Double Happiness

Mixed media. silkscreen; wood; glass; three 7’ tables inset with light boxes; table settings, portraits of the participants interviewed for the project with excerpts from their interviews silk-screened onto the backs of 24 chairs, audio. Dimensions variable

Installation for the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY, 2004

In this installation, the viewer is asked to consider the Americas as a place where hybridity is the norm; a space where identity has less to do with being than with a state of perpetual becoming.  A wedding banquet, and the Chinese character for marriage, Double Happiness, is used to symbolize and celebrate the marriage of cultures and the bicultural experiences of the Chinese diaspora. Today, every Latin American and Caribbean country is home to people of Chinese ancestry.  The stories presented in this installation are told from the perspective of Chinese families whose countries of origin include Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Peru. Based on a year long oral history project,  these interview excerpts form new narratives about the Chinese in the Americas.


Tomie Arai: Tales from Home

The Center for Book Arts promotes active explorations of both contemporary and traditional artistic practices related to the book as an art object. The CBA’s Featured Artist Project Series proves a critical forum for artists working primarily in the medium of book arts to showcase a recent or cohesive body of work or create a site-specific installation. The pieces in this 2014 Featured Artist exhibition include large scale silkscreened monoprints and artist books made of wood and found objects. Through these constructions, Arai explores the ways printed images can transform the functionality of the materials we find in our environment. Over the years, workspace programs like the Center for Book Arts have played an important role in Arai’s work. Printing at the Women’s Studio Workshop, the Printmaking Workshop and the Lower East Side Printshop where she was a keyholder for over 15 years, Arai was encouraged to build an art practice based on collaboration and exchange. Founded in the 60’s and 70’s, these unconventional artist-run workspaces were creative laboratories for artists experimenting with the printed image. 

Re:mixed/Voices from New York’s Immigrant Communities

Mixed media, silkscreen, wood panels, light boxes, chairs, portraits and photographs

Installation for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Windows on Orchard Street Project, 2005

A collaboration with the ESOL students from the Museum’s Shared Journeys program to create a window installation about the experiences of newly arrived immimgrants and their impact on the life of the city. Re:mixed explores the junctures at which immigrants can reinvent new identities and redefine what it means to be American.


Mixed media, silkscreen, wall paper, 11’ x 11’ site specific collaboration with artist Millie Chen.

Installation for Art in General, NY, 1997

An Asian American kitchen created for Art in General’s fourth floor gallery,  complete with refrigerator, stove, and shelves stocked with domestic items such as tea containers, noodles, packaged goods and objects that are marketed using traditional imagery of exotic Asian women. Kitchen questioned cultural stereotypes via the everyday artifacts associated with the preparing and sharing of food. During the dates of the installation, the artists received visitors in their kitchen for take-out food and tea.  As a site symbolic of nurturing and gathering, this kitchen served as a means in which to explore notions of Orientalism, and as a space where traditional roles were challenged and subverted


Tsuka No Ma/Briefly

Wood panels, cedar tablets, silkscreen, gingko leaves, mesh, twine, 24'long, dimensions variable.

Installation for the Gendai Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 2004

Rock Paper Scissors was an exhibition that invited three traditional Asian artists to collaborate with three contemporary artists. For the installation Tsuka No Ma/Briefly, ikebana artist, Yukie Asa and Arai chose cedar and leaves as the materials for their collaboration. The Buddhist phrase "Tsuka no ma" is found translated in Japanese/English dictionaries as 'briefly' and refers to the transience and impermanence of life. Eighty eight cedar tablets are inscribed with the repetitive handwritten memories of home recorded by Arai's mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Representing each year in her mother's life, the tablets unfold on the shelf like the pages of a tattered book. 


Portrait of a Young Girl

Mixed Media, paper, bamboo shades, light box, glass, twine, silkscreen

Installation for the Interarts Center, NY  1993



Framing an American Identity

Mixed media, silkscreen, glass, wood, twine, dimensions variable

Installation for The Alternative Museum, NY, 1992 and recreated  for the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2004.

A bicultural and multigenerational mix of Japanese Americans are juxtaposed with mass media images and racial stereotypes transferred onto shattered glass panes.  Placed strategically at eye level, this formation of eighteen portraits was displayed as a way to formally introduce these members of the community to the public and to challenge our assumptions about what it means to be both Japanese and American in the larger national discourse of race and identity. 


Black Diamonds

Wood, silkscreen, twine, 12' x 6'

Installation for the Augusta Savage Gallery, MA 1997

In response to the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s crossing of the color barrier in major league baseball,  Black Diamonds was created for the exhibition, Bases Loaded: A tribute to the Negro Baseball Leagues. This imaginary team portrait includes: John Henry “Pop” Lloyd (SS), unidentified player from the KC Monarchs, Satchel Paige (P), Oscar Charleston (OF),  Jackie Robinson (2B), James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell (CF), William “Judy” Johnson (3B), Josh Gibson (C) and Buck Leonard (1B).  The installation honors and remembers these men, and their special place in baseball history.   In reconstructing this team, the artist used materials associated with actual construction: pine planks, nails and the cowhide used to string gloves.


Resident Aliens

Mixed media, silkscreen, 9 x 12' steel panel, magnetic words, computer station and website

Installation for the Asian Pacific American Studies Institute at NYU, 2004

Resident Aliens was an installation and web project that posed a series of questions examining attitudes towards racial profiling post 9/ll. As a play on popular versions of magnetic poetry sets, participants were invited to respond to the question 'what does a terrorist look like' by using hundreds of magnetic words related to racial identity to create racial profiles based on an FBI template circulated for the public.  A computer station with an online BiRacial Profiling website was also accessible in the gallery, featuring a “Pick the Terrorist” game.  The Bi-Racial Profiling Survey was developed in collaboration with Chris Nojima, from Toasted Pixel, and was intended to provide a forum in which to share concerns about the war against terrorism, and generate discussion about issues of race, culture and national identity.