Be dazzled by Weaving Stories, SFPL’s celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) heritage. In music, dance, film and the written word, many narratives unfold for you to enjoy through both virtual and in-person programs at the Library.
Throughout the year, kids can dig into a vast array of energetic, creative programs, including author visits, visual art and crafting programs, music and dance performances and workshops. Our adult programs brim over with offerings, including author talks, book clubs, film screenings and panels on contemporary issues that impact the AANHPI community.
AANHPI Featured Artist Nancy Hom
The artwork for our AANHPI Weaving Stories celebration is by Nancy Hom, a beloved figure in the local arts community. Hom has dedicated her career to the arts, working in a variety of capacities, including the executive director of the storied Kearny Street Workshop, which is presenting Dreaming People's History: The Asian American Radical Imagination at the Main Library.
In describing her artwork, Hom says, "I took my inspiration from the Polynesian and Hawaiian tattoos and fabrics. I also have references to Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean cultures in the art...I then "wove" all the patterns together so it can be an integrated piece. I drew the design on paper with a pen, scanned it into the computer, and added the colors in Photoshop. So it's an old-fashioned drawing on paper made into a digital drawing with the help of technology. A hybrid creation."
When did you receive your calling to become an artist?
I grew up in New York City and went to school there. Art was taught in the classrooms and I always enjoyed it. I think there was an indication that I would become an artist when I was given a free Crayola box of eight crayons in either 1st or 2nd grade and I wanted more colors. I begged my parents to buy me a 24-pack of crayons and eventually saved up my allowance for a 64-pack. In 6th grade, I had a homeroom teacher who taught us many artistic projects and I loved doing them. She encouraged me to continue to do art when I graduated. In middle school, I enrolled in the art talent class. From there I went on to a high school that offered an art academic program.
After high school, I went to Pratt Institute, a prestigious art college. I became a community artist after I graduated, when I joined the Asian American Movement and learned to use my skills to reflect my cultural experience and to benefit the lives of others. I moved to San Francisco in 1974 and joined Kearny Street Workshop, an Asian American arts organization whose focus was to serve the community through art and cultural programs.
What stories or ideas do you like to convey in your art, and what do you hope people will take away?
As a community artist I have created work that celebrates cultural events and promotes various social and political causes. My art is about instilling values—helping one another, celebrating cultures, valuing our history and elders, telling our stories, and respecting the environment and people’s rights. Whether it is through my silkscreen posters, multi-cultural children’s book illustrations, or 3-D installations, I consider my work successful if the project moves people emotionally or stirs them to think more deeply about an issue.
My large-scale floor mandalas are educational and healing. They build community through collective art-making. By creating work together, we can learn from each other and honor our common humanity. We can see that we are all interdependent and part of something larger than ourselves.
This year’s theme for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month is “strengthening community fabric”. What is special about San Francisco’s AANHPI community, and what is your advice for how people can help strengthen, honor and protect this community?
The beauty of San Francisco is the diversity of cultures and the unique way in which each community celebrates its heritage and contributions. We can honor the AANHPI communities by learning, appreciating, and supporting efforts to preserve their heritage and their legacy of love, strength, and resilience.
Organizations and institutions that are in a position to fund or present AANHPI events and groups should be inclusive of the various communities and involve them at the leadership and planning level. In addition, we can highlight AANHPI experiences in our country and find common ground by acknowledging their historical injustices and protesting hate crimes. We can build trust and empathy by promoting projects that foster healing and cross-cultural dialogue. In doing so, we strengthen the community fabric of all who live in San Francisco.
About the artist
Nancy Hom was born in Toisan, China and came to the United States when she was five years old. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Pratt Institute in 1971. She moved to San Francisco in 1974. She is an artist, writer, organizer, curator and arts consultant with over 35 years of experience in the non-profit arts field.
Her art has been exhibited in numerous galleries, locally and internationally, including the de Young Museum, Euphrat Museum of Art, Stanford University, Oakland Museum, Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, De Saisset Museum, Intersection for the Arts, C.N. Gorman Museum, California Historical Society, SF International Airport, Asian American Arts Centre, New York City, Exhibits USA, C.A.L. Valeyre, Paris, France and Somart San Angel, Villa Obregón, Mexico City.