Starting in 2020, the SDCHM has partnered with the San Diego State University Chinese Cultural Center, to provide remote programming via monthly lectures, under the program title The Chinese American Experience and Beyond.
Below, you will find a video bank of recordings of past lectures in the series. Please check out the Museum's Events Page, to stay on top of and register for future lectures.
The poem “Li Sao” is the longest known Chinese poem, written 2300 years ago. As a politician and poet, the author Qu Yuan expressed his ideals and emotions in a profound metaphorical method. Scholars have been studying this poem ever since it was written, and still more and more people are drawn to this poem. This presentation looked into the cultural inheritance and political environment at the time the poem was written, and how it influenced the later generations.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, the vibrant work of Chinese artists has broken barriers while it continues to be inspired by the past. In particular, the great literati scholars and artists have been revered for their sensitive rendering of the landscape for over a thousand years. Working at times in harmony with, and at times in opposition to the Imperial government, the literati conveyed through their paintings a myriad of feelings, such as inner exploration, political commentary, longing and spiritual connection.
In this talk, we looked at the work of nine contemporary Chinese artists and trace their development to their literati roots, focusing especially on works from the Northern Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties.
Clare Chu, curator of the current exhibition at our Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension provided this lecture, tracing the history of snuff, which was introduced to China in the early 17th century when overseas trade routes expanded. In 1680, the Kangxi Emperor, himself a snuff-taker, established the Zaobanchu, the palace workshops, and the first snuff bottles were produced in the glass and enamel workshops. Contributing collector, Courtenay McGowen, lent to the conversation as discussant.
In 1860, an imperial garden of the Qing dynasty emperors was looted and burned by British and French troops during the Second Opium War. Dr. Patricia Yu’s talk addressed the bronze animal zodiac heads from the Yuanming Yuan 圓明園, tracing their lives from auction to repatriation and beyond. Doctoral candidate Yifan Li joined the discussion.
Co-Chairperson of the SDMA Asian Art Council and featured collector of the SDCHM’s current exhibition, Courtenay McGowen led this conversation on Chinese snuff bottles. In her talk, Courtenay gave a bit of historical background about this class of object, which may be produced from a wide variety of materials and incorporate a wide range of styles. Exhibition curator, Clare Chu joined the conversation as discussant.
On July 15th, former SDCHM volunteer Jeff Trace gave a talk that followed the journeys of Xuanzang, a monk who traveled the silk road as a fugitive, searching in India and Nepal for answers to questions that troubled many fellow Buddhists during the 5th century A.C.E. Professor of History and Distinguished Faculty Scholar based at Western Michigan University, Dr. Victor Xiong joined as discussant
John LeeWong grew up in the Wong Lee Laundry on State Street in San Diego. His presentation built on the research behind his contribution to the museum’s permanent exhibition, which explores the 103 Chinese hand laundries that are documented as having operated in San Diego, along with the conditions that gave rise to this type of business. Li-Rong Lilly Cheng contributed to the discussion.
In this edition of the Chinese Americans@SDSU mini-series, Dr. Zheng-Sheng Zhang spoke about his experience in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, studying the Dungan language and people. He shared his personal impressions and many images of this beautiful country, as well as his travels to the neighboring countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Anne Hoiberg centered her presentation on a project she had partnered with the museum to produce, Resilient Women of California's Chinatowns, reading from Women of the Gaslamp Quarter and Chinatown, a booklet produced as part of the Resilient Women project. Li-Rong Lilly Cheng led the discussion.
Speaker and performing artist, Andrea Yee, with her two daughters, Lynn, and Casey, narrated the story of their great (and great-great) grandfather, Art Lym, a Chinese American aviator born in San Francisco at the turn of the century, who would go on to play a role in forming the Air Force of the Republic of China in the 1920’s. Professor Sue Fawn Chung provided commentary.
Professor Sue Fawn Chung recounted the life and times of Lim Lip Hong, who had arrived to San Francisco at the age of 12 from Kaiping. He worked in a wide variety of trades, from laboring with Tubbs cordage factory to laying railroad lines with the Central Pacific, Virginia & Truckee, and Carson & Colorado companies. He settled in San Francisco at Dogpatch Ranch, where he raised a family. Performing artist, director, and writer of theater from San Francisco, Andrea Yee, joined as discussant.
Writer, reader, and historian Katie Buesch joined us on 12/17/2022. Her lecture concerned an event in 1885, in which the City of Eureka expelled approximately 300 Chinese immigrants, following the accidental shooting of a local politician. Her talk explored context of the expulsion, resistance by the immigrant community, and current work to recognize this historical legacy today.
For part five of the Jewish People in China mini-series, Bob Stein considered different histories of Jewish communities in China, from the community in Kaifeng South of the Yellow River to the Sasoon and Kadoorie families of the 19th and 20th centuries. Lala Corpuz joined us as discussant, and Lilly Cheng served as moderator of this presentation on 11/20/2022.
On 10/15/2022, Dr. William H. Ma (Assistant Art History Professor at Louisiana State University) gave a presentation on his research, considering the appearance of European figures as decorative motifs in architecture and quotidian objects produced in Guangdong, China, during the 18th and 19th centuries. He was joined by Patricia J. Yu, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley studying the Qing imperial garden of the Yuanmingyuan, who served as discussant.
The 6th lecture in the China³ series took place on 09/24/2022. This lecture was led by Li-Rong Lilly Cheng, and considered traces of the maritime silk road through the exploration of seacraft remains on the ocean floor. Lilly's lecture took into account a range of examples, from the plunder of Mike Hatcher in the mid-1980's to the excavation of the Nanhai I, a merchant ship of the Southern Song Dynasty, which gave rise to the Maritime Silk Road Museum of Guangdong.
Professor Sandra Wawrythko joined us on 07/16/2022 to provide a presentation drawing from her research as a specialist in Buddhist and Daoist epistemology, exploring common threads between Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Student of Guatama Buddha, Alex Li, participated as discussant, for a talk that was moderated by Bob Stein.
On 05/07/2022, at the start of Asian Heritage Month, San Diego local and international figure skating champion Tiffany Chin accompanied us in a lecture that was co-sponsored by the Chinese-American Heritage Foundation and the Chinese American Museum of Chicago. Director of San Diego City Council Communications for the office of Council President Dean Elo-Rivera Chris Chan moderated this session.
Ambassador Elena Wachong (Costa Rica) lecture focused on the global barriers to finding Chinese diaspora family roots for non-Chinese speakers. She was joined by discussant Judith Rubenstein and moderator Bob Stein.
Born in Berlin, John Hans Less (1923 – 2011) fled as a 16-year-old together with his family to Shanghai in September 1940 to escape the Nazis. On 03/20/2022, Less's son, Steven led this presentation with Hannah-Lea Wasserfuhr (Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Jewish Studies in Heidelberg), exploring the visual record John kept of his experience.
On 02/26/2022, Dr. Robin Yuan joined us to present the story of Bishop Robin Chen, illustrating the history of 20th century China and China's experience with Christianity. Bob Stein moderated Dr. Yuan's talk; Heath Fox joined as discussant.
Dr. Hilda van Neck-Yoder led our program on 01/15/2022, presenting part five of the China³ series. Her talk considered the way in which "Kraak" porcelain, or blue and white porcelain made in Jingdezhen during the Ming Wanli reign influenced 17th-century Dutch art and culture.
Art historian Jamie Kwan joined us on 12/04/2021 for part four of the China³ series. Her talk considered ceramic production at Jingdezhen during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), exploring the political context, different modes of production and fascinating imagery of the period.
On 11/20/2021, M.G.Crisci and Dr. Cheng Ken Chi gave a presentation exploring the life of one of China's most notable musical geniuses, Ma Sicong, incorporating photos, documents, musical excerpts, and comments from Ma's last remaining family member (Dr. Cheng Ken Chi). Wang Jian moderated; Edward Yueng served as discussant.
On 11/13/2021, Li-Rong Lilly Cheng led the third lecture in the China³ series, exploring pre-and early modern histories of transoceanic trade and cultural exchange, from the Ming dynasty to the early twentieth century (Republic of China). Bob Stein moderated; Hilda van Neck-Yoder and Wang Jian served as discussants.
On 10/16/2021, Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan, Faculty Director of the SDSU Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Resource Center and children's book author, shared her research and knowledge about the paper son/daughter experience at Angel Island. She also discussed the challenges of teaching about the paper son experience and the connections to today's political landscape.
On 10/02/2021, interdisciplinary artist, Doris Bittar, joined us for the second lecture in the China³ series. Dori's lecture explored the migration of patterns and design motifs, borne by goods traveling along the silk road, focusing on exchange between China and the Arab world.
On September 18, we welcomed members of San Diego's chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, including Brocade Wu (President OCASD) and Woo-Wah Siu (Former President of OCA Chicago and current Advisor to OCASD), who, along with OCA National's Associate Manager of Policy & Advocacy, Michael Nguyen, introduced the history of the organization and its advocacy work from the national to the local level. Chuenwei Hsu (Secretary, OCASD) and Peggy Lee (Lead of Outreach, OCASD), and Ron Cho (APAPA San Diego) contributed to the discussion.
SDCHM Chairperson and Director of the SDSU Chinese Cultural Center, Dr. Li-Rong Lilly Cheng opened the first edition of a special lecture series under the title China³ on 09/04/2021. She was joined by SDCHM Interim Director, Bob Stein, who moderated a discussion featuring the voice of art historian Jamie Kwan.
The first lecture in the series established a foundation for the concept, exploring early histories of ceramics production in Jingdezhen (formerly known as “Changnan”), from prehistoric periods to the early Ming dynasty.
On 08/21/2021, we welcomed four Chinese-American scholars from San Diego State University: Dr. Chris Mi (Professor + Chair of SDSU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), Dr. Ping Lu (Professor and Chair of SDSU's Department of Aerospace Engineering), Dr. Samuel Shen (Distinguished Professor and former Chair of SDSU's Department of Mathematics and Statistics), and Dr. Mei Zhong (Faculty of SDSU's School of Journalism and Media Studies). After presenting a selection of research contributions from their respective professions, Dr. Mi, Dr. Lu, and Dr. Shen entered into discussion moderated by Dr. Zhong, also bringing in the voices of Yawen Li, Tao Xie, and Dr. Niyi Coker.
Marina Shlau Cunningham led this presentation on 08/07/2021. After providing context for Russian migration to China from Russia in the early 20th century, Marina described life during her family's last years in China during the 1950’s, before departing for Ecuador. We heard about the schools, remaining and departed friends, gatherings at home, the Jewish and Soviet clubs, standing in line for food, participating in Sino Soviet celebrations, clandestinely listening to forbidden radio news; all under the cloud of worrying about what the future would bring.
On 07/17/2021 we were pleased to feature producer / director Leslie Li and musicologist Eric Hung, who led a presentation addressing the current rise of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States using Leslie's documentary The Kim Loo Sisters as a prism to shed light on the critical issues of race, immigration, ethnicity, and cultural identity. Evelyn Lamden moderated the discussion following Leslie's slideshow.
In this episode on 06/26/2021, we were joined by Andy Lu (speaker) and Evelyn Lamden. Andy provided an introduction to how Chinese tea culture influenced other country’s tea drinking habits. He also showed a number of beautiful and unique Qing Dynasty teapots circa 17th century from his personal collection. Audience members learned about the differences between green tea, black tea and scented tea as well as the health benefit of using Yixing clay (Zisha) teapots to properly prepare tea.
On 06/19/2021, we were joined by Dr. Phillip Bloom, who is the June and Simon K.C. Li Curator of the Chinese Garden and director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Phillip's talk surveyed works of calligraphy that are featured in the Liu Fang Yuan (Garden of Flowing Fragrance) and previewed an upcoming exhibition, A Garden of Words: The Calligraphy of Liu Fang Yuan, which will open later in August 2021 at the Huntington's new art gallery, the Studio for Lodging the Mind. Heath Fox (La Jolla Historical Society) moderated the discussion following Dr. Bloom's talk.
David Miles (SDMA) gave a talk on Chinese landscape paintings, referring to the teachings of Ming Dynasty painter, Dong Qichang (1555 - 1636 CE), who categorized them in relation to the Northern School or the Southern School. His talk on 06/15/2021 was moderated by Dr. Bob Stein.
Robert Stein opened our 05/15/2021 program with a talk about archaeological findings from sites in San Diego's historic Chinatown, and how these objects tell a story about their former owners. Russell Low joined him to provide commentary.
Betty Carr (SDMA) joined us for a 1st Saturday lecture on 04/03, where she spoke about ceramics production and global trade during the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 C.E.). Andy Lu contributed to the discussion, which was moderated by Evelyn Lamden, with a presentation of ceramic objects from his own collection.
On March 20, 2021, we were pleased to host a presentation of a study commissioned by the Committee of 100 (C100) to the Economist Group. "From Foundations to Frontiers" explores the enduring contributions of Chinese Americans to our national fabric, from the 19th century to the present day. C100 Senior Program Associate (and study lead), Lloyd Feng shared a presentation of the study, which was followed by a panel discussion convening members of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA), including Ron Cho (President, APAPA San Diego Chapter), Dr. Howard Wang (Chairperson, APAPA San Gabriel chapter), Dr. Shu Chien (former Chairperson, SDCHM Board of Trustees), Dr. Philip Chinn (Professor Emeritus, Cal State Los Angeles), and Dr. Lilly Cheng (Chairperson, APAPA San Diego Chapter / Director, SDSU CCC / Chairperson, SDCHM Board of Directors).
Check out https://contributingacrossamerica.economist.com/ for more information about the study.
On March 6th, John LeeWong (marketing and advertising professional and alum of the Chung Wah school, 1959-1963) gave a detailed presentation of the history of Chinese language school in San Diego, from the early 20th century (also considering the Chinese Mission School from the late 19th century as a predecessor) to the present-day. A classmate (and current president of the House of China), David Seid, provided commentary following John's presentation.
Cloisonné is a decorative art form practiced since 1300 BCE. Traditionally, wires are used to divide colors on a metal substrate and to create designs and then filled with fused glass or enamel coloring. On 02/6/2021, Sherry Reed joined us at the Chinese American Experience & Beyond to share her studies of this art form. Andy Lu accompanied her, highlighting a number of cloisonné objects from his own personal collection. Evelyn Lamden, an experienced marketing executive and consummate lover of the arts, moderated the conversation.
Allie Arnell joined us on 01/16/2021, providing a lecture on beauty of Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) porcelain. Her talk focused on how specific rulers reinvigorated the ceramic industry, and celebrated the colorful glazes of several great moments of Chinese ceramic history as well as fresh approaches to color and glaze technique. Andy Lu complimented Allie’s presentation by showing a number of porcelain items from his personal collection.
On 12/19/2020, Ray Menegus spoke about the processes involved in making objects with lacquer, a substance that was used to color, beautify, and protect screens, furniture, sculpture, bowls, etc. It could be carved, incised and inlaid. Mr. Menegus’ personal experience making a carved lacquer box showed us how difficult this technique is. Following Ray's presentation, commentary was provided by Andy Lu, who showed a number items made with lacquer and inlay techniques from his extensive collection.
On 11/21/2020, Elaine Pierce spoke about the influence of East-West exchange in Qing dynasty painting. Her lecture, "Virtual Realities: Extreme Illusionism in Qing Court Painting," centered on works by an extraordinarily versatile artist, Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining), under the patronage of one of the greatest connoisseurs of all times, the Qianlong Emperor.
On Saturday, November 7th, Catherine Jones led a presentation on the significance of Jade in the Chinese tradition. Following Cathy's lecture, commentator Andrew Lu shared a slideshow featuring pieces from his personal collection, which spans Asia and Mesoamerica. The floor then opened to community members, who shared a range of jade items from their own personal collections.
This program unfolded as a "Virtual Walking Tour of the Asian Pacific Historic District," led by Amie Lee Garapich and Michael Yee, following an online resource prepared by Michael with use of ArcGIS Storymaps.