Thursday, July 10, 2014
Danny Yung's Flower Plaque Installation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Bamboo Flower Plaque

The Story of the Bamboo Flower Plaque

A celebratory tradition hailing from Hong Kong, the flower plaque is a product of collaboration between artist Danny Yung, chief craftsman Choi Wing Kei and his workshop, and the Smithsonian Institution. Find out more about the flower plaque here, and view some more photos of the event here.
A statue of Tian Tian

Who Is Tian Tian?
The flower plaque at the entrance to China: Tradition and the Art of Living at the 2014 Folklife Festival prominently features a character named Tian Tian. Created by artist Danny Yung, the blank boyish figure represents curiosity and the desire to learn and explore. Find out more about Tian Tian here.

Danny Yung and AAAC founder Robert Lee imitating Tian Tian's iconic pose.

Press Coverage:
The "godfather" of Hong Kong contemporary art, Danny Yung, was honored by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office after his installation for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage successfully finished its run in Washington.
Commissioned by the center, Yung was asked to create a piece that centered on the theme of "folklife" and the Shanghai-born artist produced a 40-meter-wide, 10-meter-high flower plaque bamboo installation on the National Park in Washington, garnering more than 1 million visitors during its two-week run.
The flower plaque installation — called a fa paai in Cantonese — is one of the biggest installations ever built in the Smithsonian Center's annual festival and was on display from June 25 to July 6. Titled Gateway – Tian Tian Xiang Shang, it was designed by Yung and built by craftsmen from the Wing Kei Flower Store Ltd in collaboration with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. The fa paai is traditionally displayed in Hong Kong for celebratory events, such as weddings, family gatherings, or store openings, combining cultural heritage and artistic exchange, Yung said.
When the center initially commissioned him, Yung said he was unsure of the theme, because as a contemporary artist, he didn't know if he could make something in response to the idea of traditional folklife. But he said the importance of being able to spotlight Asian culture at a historic American location motivated him to take the challenge.
"The most important thing I wanted to do was deal with the cross-culturalism. I wanted to see how we can cope with the new challenges that's coming up [between China and the US], which have been around for quite a while," he told China Daily at the celebratory event held in New York on Monday.
"I think crossover is so important in dialoguing. If we changed our positions, I think we'll see things differently. I think we gain new perspectives and new sensitivities, so what I did with my installation is include a big wall, like the one in Tiananmen Square, but in the middle there's a gateway, so people can walk through it so that they can see where they come from, so they can learn what's on the other side," he said.
On the installation are four-character Chinese proverbs that begin with the character for "sky" — the title of the exhibit is one such proverb, meaning "to make progress every day" — which Yung said is a huge focal point in Chinese culture.
"Sky is so important in China, because China is an agricultural country. You have to look at the sky — if it rains, if it rains too much, if it's shining, if it's shining too much. All this affects the crops. So I did some studying and I traced many proverbs that start with the character ‘sky' and I collected about 160 or something, and I picked 16 of those" to display on the installation, he said.
"Everyone would agree that the four-character idiom is the essential step to understanding the thousands of years of Chinese culture," Yung said in an artist statement about the installation. "My childish opinion was that the idiom ‘look up to the sky as you conduct your life' is to remind us to watch the weather forecast, as it can help us determine whether or not to carry an umbrella when we go out; perhaps I understood the sky to represent seasons, the sun, and rain, which predicts the yearly harvest."
Featured in the installation is a statue of a mouthless child named Tian Tian who points up at the sky, symbolizing a person who's always striving to make progress every day, something that Yung said he wants to share in a dialogue between US-China artistic exchange.
"I hope new sensitivities arise from those who visit the installation], as does a new way of looking at oneself. It's one important part of cultural exchange," he said. "Creativity too, because when I create a piece of work, I think that I learn more about myself and what I don't know."

By Amy He, from China Daily. 
Read more
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

蛾 Mothpoetica
Poetry of Moth, Man, & Migranti

"For him the earth remains flat, not round
A narrow island of fate and misfortune.
The migrant skims a torn map,
A moth unfolds its wings flying
Apart from East to the West...."
                                Russell C. Leong "Moth"

MOTHPOETICA is a spoken word performance collection conceived, written and enacted by the veteran awardwinning-writer, editor and professor Russell C. Leong (梁志英)

MOTHPOETICA is modeled after the persona of a New York City fast-food delivery man and brings together the worlds of moth, man, myth, and migrant captured in a lyric, humorous, and often soulful performance reading.  

Together with the opus poem "Moth" Leong includes other original poetic works which span Southeast Asia and the Chinese diaspora in his readings.  

"Moth" debuted at Bob Holman's Bowery Poetry Club in New York City in June 22 2014.

Themes of MOTHPOETICA range from getting a haircut in a bullet-riddled barbershop to love, sexuality and AIDS; from Asian migration to urban insurrections; and race, class, martial arts.  For his readings, Leong often works with local musicians and artists including Lorin Roser of NYC, Lei Mo in Nanjing, and others in Los Angeles and Beijing.  

RUSSELL C. LEONG is a spoken word artist, writer, editor, and university professor.  He has read poetry and given literary talks internationally at venues in Los Angeles, Beijing, Nanjing, Taipei, Kaoshiung, Kobe, San Francisco, and New York.  He was one of 50 U.S. poets featured in Bob Holman's five-part PBS series, "The United States of Poetry,"  and reads and speaks in the Annenburg Media Series on American writers. 

Leong received the American book award for "Phoenix Eyes and Other Stories," and the PEN Josephine Miles award for "The Country of Dreams and Dust." Leong, born in San Francisco Chinatown, received his formal education at San Francisco State College, Taiwan National University, and UCLA.  He has taught at UCLA, University of Hong Kong, University of Kansas, and Hunter College (CUNY) New York. 

CONTACT for readings, performances, talks and workshops:
Schools, art centers, and other venues contact the writer for availability and locale. Special rates for non-profits,and schools.

Russell Leong 梁志英

Phone: 213-479-2148  E-mail:

Reviews & Presentations of Russell C. Leong's Literary Work:

Los Angeles (LA Times)
"Leong always shows us how memory and identity persist even in the melting pot of America..his acute powers of observation and his poet's gift for capturing the experience of transcendence are given full expression in the pages of Phoenix Eyes."

Educational:  Annenburg Learner Express (N. Scott Momaday and Russell Leong)

Read more