Think!Chinatown unveils Lunar New Year exhibit in lower Manhattan's vibrant Chinatown
Think!Chinatown is offering a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of Lunar New Year traditions with its latest photography exhibit.
Titled "Walking with Lions and Other Chinatown New Year Traditions," the exhibit delves into the resilient spirit and historic customs of the community.
"I like to think of it’s an interior perspective," said Yin Kong, executive director of Think!Chinatown.
Kong said this exhibit tells the background story behind many of the customs people see and some they may not be aware of at all.
“Our practices with alters, our practices with our families or the preparations the line dance troupes do to get ready for the big day,” said Kong.
Featuring Edward Cheng's black and white photography spanning over two decades, the exhibit showcases the evolution of tradition. Artist Warren King contributes a creative piece - an intricately designed lion dancer crafted entirely from cardboard. Allison Kuo adds to the mix with a dragon made from household items commonly found in Chinatown.
"There’s scrubby sponges, rice bowls, curtain hangers, feather dusters, pill boxes for teeth," Kong points out, emphasizing the innovative use of everyday objects in the artwork.
That rainbow dragon Kuo designed made its debut on Lunar New Year and will reappear on a special day known as Super Saturday, falling this year on Feb. 17.
“Super Saturday is the funnest day here in Manhattan Chinatown, all the lions come from across New York City to dance and give blessings to the stores and small businesses around Chinatown,” said Kong
Visitors to the exhibit not only witness the visual spectacle but also gain insight into the depth of tradition that underpins the community's culture. Kong describes it as a layering of tradition, where old meets new.
“Line dancing has traditionally been a very male-oriented activity. It’s great more and more women are included and being a part of the tradition, but something about our lantern artist residency that we wanted to do is bring a feminine energy as well to these celebrations,” said Kong.
She says all of this makes up a culture in Chinatown that is alive and well.
“It’s not just this one day, it’s one day that very vibrant and visible on the street, but these practices are rich and deep and they happen all year-round,” said Kong.