De Anza College's site re-design omitted most of Euphrat Museum of Art's past exhibitions. We have recovered and archived the content here for historical purposes. Detailed information on the Euphrat Museum's exhibitions and programs between 2004 and 2011 is stored on this page. The webpage appears as it did in 2011.

To get a sense of the evolution of the Euphrat site over time, please view the snapshots of the site archived by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
Euphrat Home
Arts and Leadership Presentations

Unveiling: "made in usa: Paul Fong" created by artist Flo Oy Wong
Friday, March 11, 5-7pm
Euphrat Museum of Art

Historian Connie Young Yu:
What better launching pad for "made in the usa" than the Euphrat Musuem of Art at De Anza?

We are at the confluence of the arts, of history, education and civic engagement. This event is about more than unveiling of an art piece: It provides a forum for the history of Chinese Exclusion laws and the struggle for civil rights, the current issue of saving marine life*, and the inspiring narrative of our own Honorable Assembly Paul Fong and his family.

Just a short distance away, at the California History Center is the exhibit of the Chinese Historical Society of America's Detained at Liberty's Door and right next to it is an archaeology exhibit on Nihonmachi and Heinenville, San Jose's own Japantown and Chinatown. Here in our midst is history that has been suppressed and recovered and now made accessible to the community.

It took years of struggle, hardship and civil disobedience before all forms of exclusionary policies stemming from the Chinese Exclusion were overturned and declared unconstitutional. And many more years for our society to recognize that excluded communities existed.

The California Assembly Bill, ACR 42 introduced by Paul Fong is called a "request for an apology" but he intended it as a call for recognition and resolve. These terrible wrongs happened. Never again a law that excludes a specific race from American society and deprives people of their civil rights.

What Paul Fong did was create a forum for education, it was a teaching opportunity that Americans badly needed. And Flo Wong continues that step forward. Her work connects us, illuminates our stories in a aesthetic form, and puts history back into our souls. Today we commend Paul Fong for the great work he does and celebrate the art of Flo Wong. She weaves his story of our legacy and struggles and continued activism in her work, and makes it the fabric of history: made in the U.S.A.

*the current issue of saving marine life:
Connie Young Yu refers to a recent article by Patricia Leigh Brown of the New York Times, March 5, 2011, reporting on a bill Assemblyman Paul Fong is co-sponsoring banning the sale and possession of shark's fins and serving shark's fin soup: "Down the rickety alleyways and produce-laden byways of San Francisco's Chinatown, some see the proposed law as a cultural assault -- a sort of Chinese Exclusion Act in a bowl." Yu assails the message: "It conjures up the stereotype of Chinatowns, trivializes the Chinese Exclusion Law — the most egregious immigration law in U.S. history…and Paul Fong's proposed legislation on an environmental issue that concerns us all. We need to fight attempts to exclude our history and distort the truth of today's issues. This is why tonight's event "made in the usa: Paul Fong" at the Euphrat is so important."

Artist Flo Oy Wong:
The Honorable Paul Fong, Chancellor Thor, Jan, and those of you who are assembled here today to witness the unveiling of made in usa: Paul Fong I thank you for coming. We are here to honor Paul whose maternal grandfather, Chan Share, came to this country from China in 1939. That was 47 years after the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Law.

Paul, I made this new piece because I was inspired by your election to the California State Legislature in 2008. This work, which we are unveiling to the community tonight, is a continuation of my seminal series entitled made in usa: Angel Island Shhh. But, before I go into the heart of my talk I want to introduce members of your family who are here today – your lovely wife, Grace, your mother, Mei Fong, and your daughter, Nicole.

I first met Paul and his siblings when his father, the late Y. K. Fong, owned a nursery on Mary Avenue in Sunnyvale. My husband, Ed, and I stopped there often to buy flowers to put on my parents' graves at the cemetery in Oakland. We also saw Paul and his family on Friday nights at the Chinese School at Ellis Elementary School in Sunnyvale during the 1970s where my children and Paul's sister, Jane, attended. I remember Mr. Fong, Paul's brother, Allen, his sister, Jane, and their lion dance troupe that entertained students and parents alike during celebrations.

Years later, I ran into Paul again in the 1980s when my son, Brad, attended Homestead High School. At that time Paul was a member of the board of directors for the Asian Americans for Community Involvement, ACCI. I had no idea that Paul's community involvement in ACCI would significantly impact our family's life.

During Brad's sophomore year his fellow students decided to highlight the country of Japan in an intercultural celebration. To depict the culture of Japan the students came up with the idea of having Asian American students dress in Hawaiian shirts. These students also draped cameras around their necks in a stereotypical mocking of the Japanese tourists. The sophomore class hung banners which incorporated stereotypical images of Japanese as buck tooth yellow faced people. To culminate their celebration there a reenactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor took place. The bombs? Water balloons.

Brad attended the planning committee meeting for the sophomore class project. He came home disturbed after a meeting. When he told my husband and me what would be taking place we urged him to speak out and to bring his concerns to the Homestead administration. But the sophomore band wagon continued to roll and the sophomores put their skewed recognition of Japanese culture. Brad and his classmates witnessed the demeaning water balloon toss intended to emulate the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Our family ideally believed that Brad's concerns would be heard with understanding. The Homestead administration and a social studies teacher named Mr. Neff defended the sophomore class. Mr. Neff wrote in a letter that he, as a white teacher who had traveled to Japan, understood more about the Japanese culture than Brad. Brad was told that he was too sensitive. It was then that Paul, Allan Seid, and Ed Kawazoe of the Asian Americans for Community Involvement (ACCI) stepped forth to support our family to mount a formal protest to the then superintendent of the Fremont Union High School District.

Fast forward to the late 1990s and the early 2000 – I was commissioned by Kearny Street Workshop a San Francisco-based Asian American arts organization led by Nancy Hom as executive director, to create made in usa: Angel Island Shhh, a series that revealed the identity secrets of twenty five former Angel Island detainees. These detainees were known as "paper people," immigrants who had entered this country under false identities due to the passing of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Law. The xenophobic statute forbade the entry of laborers, their wives, and families to come to this country.

In the midst of working on made in usa: Angel Island Shhh, a collaboration with Kearny Street Workshop under Nancy Hom's guidance, I told Paul who was teaching at Evergreen College about my project. Paul mentioned that his maternal grandfather, Chan Share, was a "paper person." I asked if I could make a rice sack flag in honor of his grandfather. Paul consented. He arranged for his mother, Mei, to tell me her father's story. Chan Share had entered the U. S. in 1939 as the son of his uncle, staying at Angel Island lasted for two and a half months. His real father was a railroad worker in the U. S. who had returned to China permanently in 1893.

Fast forward to 2008 when Paul was first elected to the California State Legislature - Paul had already been active in the community in the South Bay as an activist, an educator, and a board member of the Foothill/De Anza College District. He had attended Sunnyvale High School where he met Mike Honda, the member of Congress who hails from Campbell. He met Paul Sakamoto who with Mike served as his mentors. From them he learned the importance of leadership within a community context. Paul passed this teaching forward by encouraging many Asian Americans to run for public office and to make their voices heard as concerned citizens.

I was proud that Paul was elected. As a friend who was an artist I wanted to speak aesthetically about his election to the California Legislature. I asked for permission to make a flag in his honor. I also wanted to thank him for helping to sustain our family through the troublesome Homestead experience that Brad had gone through. Because the made in usa artwork was based on oral history I met with Paul to interview him. He found time to tell me his story, some of which I incorporated onto his rice sack flag. Let's unveil the flag now as it is time to explain the symbolism.

To continue the design of the seminal made in usa: Angel Island Shhh series I once again embellished a cloth rice sack and sewed it onto a flag of the United States. This time the references point to Paul, his wife, Grace, his children, his parents, and his grandfather, Chan Share. I created Paul's name on a slant. In art, a diagonal line is considered the strongest line hence Paul's name is placed in a diagonal configuration. "California" is tied to Paul's name. The words "22nd Assembly" is located beneath his name. I co-opted the word Long of "long grain" and changed it to Fong, Paul's surname. Below "Fong" is Grace, which I had changed from the original "rice." If you look closely under Grace's name there's a reference to his mother Mei. I call her an "American Ma." At the bottom of the rice sack is a floral depiction from a Qing Dynasty textile from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These flowers represent the floral industry and the chrysanthemum association that Paul's family has been members of for many years. By the way, Anita Chan, the wife of the late Gordon Chan, who was a leader in the chrysanthemum association is here tonight.

In the middle of the rice sack near the top is the number "3." When Paul was in pre-school at the age of 3 there was a monkey in a cage in his classroom. Paul released the monkey. I can guess we might say that he's still doing that now as a legislator, releasing the monkey from the cage. In the lower middle section is Fong Mun Joong, Paul's Chinese name. Loosely translated it means the center of culture.

On the left side of the rice sack I listed Paul's children, Sean, Sydney, and Nicole. At the top left is the phrase "bong slin," Hoisanese for tying the knot, Paul's job as a child when he helped his grandfather on their chrysanthemum farm. At Sunnyvale High School Paul was a "homeboy." At the end of "homeboy" is Y. K., his father's initials. His grandfather, Chan Share, is honored on the left side also. "Chan" is connected to the word "the" of "tie the knot" and "Share" takes the viewer's eyes back to the middle.

Located at the top right corner is the reference to ACR42, the legislation that Paul co-sponsored in the legislature that apologizes for and recognizes the persecution of Chinese in California for over 150 years due to unjust laws and unfair treatment.

And so it with heartfelt affection that I present made in usa: Paul Fong to the community from which Paul comes. Following this unveiling tonight I will be shipping the piece to a group exhibit entitled "Cultural Activism" at the Seattle Central Community College in Seattle. The exhibit is an accompaniment to Susan Noyes Platt's book called "Art and Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis." made in usa: Paul Fong premiered at a solo show at St. Benedict College in Minnesota last fall. May his piece travel to many more venues so that viewers will learn about Paul, a descendant of an Angel Island "paper person," and how he contributes to the betterment of society through his work.

Paul, thank you for inspiring me to make this new work.

To Theresa Prescott, my invaluable studio assistant, I thank you for your work on made in usa: Paul Fong.

In closing, I thank Jan Rindfleisch and the Euphrat Museum for generously hosting this unveiling. The Euphrat provides a venue and resource for visual ideas and communication that stimulate creativity and an interest in art among audiences of all ages. The museum also provides for a spectrum of interactions with a large and diversified public, working on and off campus with specialists in all disciplines. I am delighted to be a part of the diversified public working with the Euphrat. My delight is intensified because I took my first formal art classes at De Anza and at Foothill College when I was in my late 30s. I learned to develop my visual voice here in classrooms not too far from the Euphrat.

Arts & Schools Arts & Schools
After-School Art Program enables professional artists to conduct yearlong art classes... Read more
Learn To Play Past Highlights
Learn To Play - When life is a game, how do you learn to play? Games, an expression of art and life, can bridge the gaps between cultures... Read more
Support The Future of the Euphrat! Support The Future of the Euphrat!
This is a pivotal time for the Euphrat Museum of Art due to severe budget cuts... Read more
Copyright © 2008-2011 Euphrat Museum of Art, De Anza College. All Rights Reserved.
Web design by Design2Market in collaboration with Samson Wong.