Tomie Arai

Social Practice
Artist in Residence, 2019

A portrait of a person in front of artworks.

Artist Statement

As a co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade, an intergenerational, womxn-led collective with deep roots in Manhattan Chinatown, I center art and culture as a way to support community led campaigns to advance change. Through the social framework of collaboration, I work closely with local residents, activists, artists and grassroots organizations to amplify the stories of displaced and dislocated communities across the country. I use the specificity of my experience as an Asian American as a personal space in which to locate broader issues of race and gender; a space through which a glimpse of common ground is possible. Autobiography, archives, and oral histories help me examine the complex relationship between history, memory, and art; giving special meaning to the spaces we live and work in.

While at Headlands

A Headlands residency will be a period of time spent planning new work and developing strategies for connecting and engaging with the public. In 2012 I received a commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission to create architectural glass artwork for the new Central Subway Station in San Francisco’s Chinatown. This has been a project almost 7 years in the making. As a public artist from New York, a residency at Headlands is an opportunity to rebuild partnerships with local Bay Area community organizations in anticipation of the opening of the subway station in 2020. What I am most looking forward to is the space to reflect on ways I can bring my studio and social practice into deeper balance. Having the time to meet and work alongside artists and practitioners in the field will have an immeasurable impact on my work at this juncture in my career.

Selected Video

Chinatown Art Brigade; Here to Stay, 2018

View Resilience and Resistance at Angel Island: In Conversation with Tomie Arai

Resilience and Resistance at Angel Island: In Conversation with Tomie Arai