Take Root is a public art project for the renovated main reading room of the San Francisco Chinatown Branch Library, which serves as an ad hoc community gathering place in the densely-populated inner-city neighborhood. The wall-based artwork leverages the limited available artwork space, to architecturally define a symbolic cross-cultural space through plaques, surface treatments, and columns bearing community poems.
Bi-lingual panels reference traditional Chinese salutary plaques in contemporary materials of rear-illuminated, die-cut anodized aluminum. The Chinese text is based on calligraphy written for Take Root by well-known artist and calligrapher C. C. Wang. It features a Chinese-American saying about setting roots in America, that is adapted from a traditional saying about returning to the old country at life's end. The English text is a poetic translation.
Copper-leafed columns bear copper panels that are etched with bilingual community poems about the library. Referencing the immigrant history of the community, light sconces above the poems bear the names of key departing and arrival cites in Asia and America. Vermillion-paint on the under surface of cross beams subtly complete the metaphorical architectural enclosure.
Laser-cut anodized aluminum, flourescent lights, silkscreen on acrylic, etched copper, copper leaf; overall dimens. 20' x 20' x 20'. Commissioned by the San Francisco Art Commission. Chinatown Branch Library, San Francisco, CA