Virtual Live Events

Everyday Chinatown: Stories of Ordinary Artifacts


When: Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 6:30 - 8:00 pm ET

Event Location: YouTube Live

Cost: FREE

Please note: This program was originally scheduled for June 25th. It is now being held on June 30th.

Join the Tenement Museum and Think!Chinatown on YouTube Live for an intimate look at the art and stories behind everyday artifacts in Manhattan’s Chinatown. What happens when everyday objects are recognized as artifacts? See how ordinary items like mooncake tins or hawthorne candy can spark conversations of collective memory and strengthen cultural understanding.  We’ll “visit” the Wong family, the first Chinese American family story to be featured in the Tenement Museum. Then, we’ll celebrate the launch of Think!Chinatown’s third season of their Everyday Chinatown storytelling project. Listen in on audio recordings from the neighborhood and see how these artifacts are visually interpreted by artists John Lee, Lilly Lam, Hui Ma, and XinMei Liu. We’ll also explore some artifacts from the Tenement Museum’s Your Story Our Story online digital storytelling exhibit.

This program is a presented by the Tenement Museum and Think!Chinatown.

When: Tuesday, June 30th; 6:30-8:00pm


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Everyday Chinatown is the collective storytelling of ordinary artifacts produced by Think!Chinatown. The everyday object — bagua (octagonal fengshui mirror), penzi (plastic basin), mooncake tin — is a beautiful way to explore collective memory, honor histories that represent us, and value inter-generational learning. Stories about objects found in everyday life in our community, are recorded in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. In previous years, artists have created artful displays in shopfront windows of Chinatown businesses linked to a cellphone audio guide system to present these stories. This year, four API artists have been invited to create animated illustrations to accompany the stories.  

Your Story, Our Story collects stories of cultural identity from participants around the country in a digital exhibit at Through objects, traditions, and more, people share parts of their cultural heritage to explore our similarities and differences across the U.S. Learn more at

The Tenement Museum tells the stories of immigrants, migrants, and refugees in the ongoing creation of the United States. Housed in two historic tenement buildings on Orchard Street, the museum connects past to present through the personal stories of newcomers in the Lower East Side.  

THINK!CHINATOWN is a non-profit based in Manhattan’s Chinatown here to listen, to respond, and to build Chinatown’s capacities as a strong and vibrant immigrant neighborhood of NYC. Their work sits at the intersection of storytelling, neighborhood engagement, and the arts. Learn more at 


Artist bios: 

Hui Ma is a Chinese illustrator and graphic designer who lives in Queens, New York. She earned her bachelor degree at Tsinghua University, MFA Communication design at Pratt Institute, MFA Illustration as Visual Essay at School of Visual Art. Her works are mostly inspired by stories related to people of color, gender minorities, and her own dreams. When she is not drawing, she enjoys traveling, watching old movies, and petting her demanding cat. 

Xinmei Liu is an illustrator/printer/publisher based in New York. She was born in Shanghai, China and just recently earned her MFA from the Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts. Her work is mostly focused on her cultural background, social issues, childhood experience and history. She likes to watch comedy shows while working and has a rabbit named “Kitty Cat.” 

Lilly Lam is a Taiwanese and Chinese-American illustrator born and raised in NYC, she often looks for opportunities to use visuals to explore layers of her identity. She currently works as a graphic designer and illustrator for the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC, the office dedicated to improving mental health services for all New Yorkers. Lilly currently lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn with her husband and their two chatty, geriatric cats.  

John Lee is an illustrator from Memphis, TN currently based in New York City. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, and MFA from SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay program.