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At the Easel with Artist Cynthia Tom

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Woman holding her arms outstretched beneath small hand painted umbrellas and tags

Detail of “Discards and Variances: Tales of Human Trafficking from a Chinese American Family Perspective.” Credit: Photo Cris Matos

Virtual Event

Go on a journey with cultural surrealist Cynthia Tom to explore how an artist moves from intuition to art images. In session one, Cynthia will show us how haute couture, cultural heritage, and ancestral healing inspire her art. In session two, join Cynthia for a cup of tea and a live online chat. Bring questions, meet three other talented artists who use cultural heritage and healing in their work, and discuss openly about using art as a powerful tool of healing.

Session one (YouTube)
5 to 5:45 pm 
Cultural surrealist Cynthia Tom will present a slide show of her art and share how she weaves intuition into image, using haute couture, cultural heritage, and ancestral healing as art mediums and inspiration. 

Session two (Zoom)
6 to 7 pm 
In this live online discussion, Cynthia Tom will introduce artists PAZ Zamora, Katie Quan, and Manon Wada, A PLACE OF HER OWN (PLACE) alumni, who will share about their cultural heritage-inspired artwork and artistic healing experiences with PLACE. Session two will take place directly after session one.

About the speakers

Cynthia Tom, a San Francisco visual artist and curator for over 30 years, is a painter, found object sculptor, installation artist, and curator. She intuitively explores cultural heritage, healing, empowerment, spirituality, family patterns of trauma, and feminism through the lens of social justice, community, and healing. Her work has been shown at San Francisco Fine Arts Museums, Marin Museum of Contemporary Arts, SOMArts Cultural Center, Los Gatos Museum of Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and more. Internationally, her work is curated by Santiago Ribeiro of Surrealism NOW. Her archives are in the collections at the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art collection and she is included in two academic textbooks.

She is also the founding director of A PLACE of HER OWN (PLACE), an arts-based healing program for women of color and communities of color. Participants learn to explore and challenge chronic heartache and limiting beliefs due to ancestral trauma and colonization, gaining tools to access intuition and nurture self-care. Alumnae of the program are invited to participate as exhibition artists, workshop facilitators, speakers, and event coordinators.

Cynthia’s partnership and partial history with the de Young and Legion of Honor: 

  • 2000 – 2009 Invited by Renee Baldocchi, public programs founding director to multiple artist residencies, workshops, and demonstrations. She painted among the Rodin sculptures at the Legion of Honor. 
  • 2009 PLACE, an Artists’ in Residency during “Asian American Modern” 
  • 2009 “Reframing the Genre: Panel Discussion on Asian American Women in the Arts.”
  • 2013 Asian American Women Artists Association Bernice Bing film screening
  • 2009 and 2022 Asian American Community advisor

Patricia Zamora is a creative and visual artist honoring traditional culture, family, and community and aspiring for personal and ancestral collective healing. She is the community engagement specialist for the Community Arts Stabilization Trust and directed the award-winning Citywide Creative Arts at Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco for nine years. She co-curated the “Identity and Pride” youth exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in partnership with SF Pride and serves on the Bay Area Board of Arts Education Alliance. Previously she served on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission Working Group for Equity in Arts. She has been involved with PLACE since 2016 and is a community liaison, facilitator, and part of the leadership circle.

Manon Wada is a multimedia artist currently based in Brooklyn, NY, on ceded Canarsie Munsee Lenape territory. Her art practice primarily takes form as sculptural installations and in collaborative projects. She investigates combinations of rupture, repair, and empathy through an expanded inquiry of what can be found through loss. She completed her BFA at California College of the Arts in community arts in 2009, and her MFA at Rhode Island School of Design in sculpture in 2019. She has been awarded grants for projects including Visible Voices, HEARTH Community Art Garden Project, and Counternarratives of Herstory Census. She is a member of Asian American Women Artists Association and has been an artist-in-resident at ComPeung in Doi Saket, Thailand and at Elsewhere Museum, in Greensboro, NC. Her work has been exhibited at Rumpueng Community Art Space in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Sol Koffler Gallery in Providence, RI, Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, MA, and in Bay Area venues such as Thoreau Center for Sustainability, SOMArts Cultural Center, and International Hotel Manilatown. 

Katie Quan was born and raised in San Francisco as a 3rd generation Chinese American. She is an artist, community advocate, and educator. Her family found joy through jewelry making, sewing, music, painting, and crafts, so it is no surprise that Katie, too, developed a love for drawing, writing, and storytelling. Today, she is the creator of GenerAsian, an illustration-based web series that gives Asian American artists a creative platform to thrive. Her art is directly linked to her passion for community and social justice. Her platform REALSOUL explores moments and movements of solidarity and intersectionality from the perspective of Asian America. Her work has been exhibited in SF Zinefest, Kearny Street Workshop, Asian American Women’s Artist Association, and Chinese Historical Society of America. She teaches Asian American Studies at City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. In her free time, you can find her drawing, bouldering, or swatting gnats away from her indoor plants.

About the exhibition

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy celebrates the extraordinary designs of Guo Pei—hailed as China's first couturier—and includes more than 80 works from the past two decades highlighting her most important collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. Through exquisite craftsmanship, lavish embroidery, and unconventional dressmaking techniques, Guo Pei creates a fantasy that fuses the influences of China’s imperial past, decorative arts, European architecture, and the botanical world. Through her extraordinary fashions, the exhibition reveals the trajectory of Guo Pei’s career as remarkable yet emblematic of China’s emergence as a leader in the fashion world in the early twenty-first century.

This event is part of Virtual Wednesdays, a weekly YouTube broadcast bringing you unique viewpoints exploring diversity, resilience, and creative spirit in the arts as we aim to reframe our exhibitions and collections. View upcoming Virtual Wednesdays programs.

Ticket Information

This is a free event, taking place online via YouTube and Zoom.


Contact Information

Public Programs
publicprograms@famsf.org
(415) 750-7694