photography / documentary: chinatown baby boomers: Fay Chiang, poet, artist, activist

“Culture allows us to dream, to envision what is possible.” Fay Chiang – visual artist, poet, community activist – was one of the co-founders and a long time director of the Basement Workshop, NYC’s seminal Asian American cultural collective. One of the rallying points for her generation of activists were the NYPD’s excessive use of stop and frisk policies targeting young people of color, and the brutal 1975 police beating of Peter Yew. Twenty years later, a police bullet killed 16 y.o. Yong Xin Huang in Brooklyn. Over the past ten years, Fay has created more than 60 portraits of youths whose lives were lost at the hand of police.“I wonder as I am painting: what is the future for our children in this metropolis of glass towers and power and wealth? how can entire communities be decimated in its shadows, lives destroyed, eliminated and our children and youth of color are made to be puppets for that pipeline into corporate prisons....”“I keep painting these portraits because the stream of killings continue and their families ask me to; this is my way to honor those lives taken before their time; to honor their families who continue year after year to live with the absence of loved ones and continue their fight against injustice.  they show us how we must continue the struggle for what is right and good and whole.”
Fay Chiang, poet, artist, activist

“Culture allows us to dream, to envision what is possible.” Fay Chiang – visual artist, poet, community activist – was one of the co-founders and a long time director of the Basement Workshop, NYC’s seminal Asian American cultural collective. One of the rallying points for her generation of activists were the NYPD’s excessive use of stop and frisk policies targeting young people of color, and the brutal 1975 police beating of Peter Yew. Twenty years later, a police bullet killed 16 y.o. Yong Xin Huang in Brooklyn. Over the past ten years, Fay has created more than 60 portraits of youths whose lives were lost at the hand of police. 

“I wonder as I am painting: what is the future for our children in this metropolis of glass towers and power and wealth? how can entire communities be decimated in its shadows, lives destroyed, eliminated and our children and youth of color are made to be puppets for that pipeline into corporate prisons....” 

“I keep painting these portraits because the stream of killings continue and their families ask me to; this is my way to honor those lives taken before their time; to honor their families who continue year after year to live with the absence of loved ones and continue their fight against injustice. they show us how we must continue the struggle for what is right and good and whole.”