Check out the making of the three part series about Carnegie Hall's NeON Arts #BeautifyNYC #WeAreBetterTogether Solidarity project.
Series #1: Hester St "Stop Discrimin-Asian" Mural #WeAreBetterTogether
This is the first ever mural (10x32ft) created to celebrate the culture and heritage of the Fuzhounese, Chinese community which has been one of the hardest hit groups due to COVID-19.
Located at 44 Hester St NYC
Alana Tsui was born and raised in New Zealand to parents from Hong Kong and Shanghai. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, she moved to New York City, living by herself for the first time. She relished the complete freedom she had to express herself with paint on the walls of her apartment, which sparked her passion for painting murals. She gained attention for her work when she posted on social media, and people began to reach out to her with requests. She turned her passion into a career.
Alana lived for four years in Hong Kong to learn about and experience her family’s culture. While there, she worked as a fashion stylist for HYPEBEAST. Her murals took off in Hong Kong’s niche art market. Since returning to New York she has been painting full time.
Alana has eleven years of experience as a mural artist. She has painted numerous commercial spaces, apartments, restaurants, and many other locations, both private and high profile, including WeWork, The Thompson Hotel, Gray’s Papaya, Vans, and ECKO.
The intention behind Alana's art is to inspire. She seeks to bring light and positive messages to the world. A friend introduced her to Murals for Good and when she learned that our non-profit street art organization prioritizes equity and belonging and putting an end to Asian hate, she jumped at the opportunity to partner with us. Given the recent upswing in Asian hate crimes, Alana believes there is no better time to use the beauty of art to bring awareness to this issue, stand up for her people, and uplift Chinatown, which has been profoundly affected by COVID-19.
Her New Zealand upbringing influenced Alana's style which, early on, incorporated bold monochromatic Pacific Island-influenced patterns. After connecting with her Asian roots in Hong Kong her style evolved and now incorporates Chinese calligraphy-like paint strokes and patterns. This new style aligned with the MfG project. She incorporated elements of koi fish, symbolizing strength of character, perseverance, and courage, as well as the Chinese people who traveled across the sea to start a new life in America.
The Chinese character in the middle, floating on a lotus flower, is the first word of “Fu-zhou” (which is where the Macaron Parlour store owner is from) but it also means good fortune and luck while the lotus flower symbolizes rebirth.
Community Based Partner & Mural Inspiration
Fuzhounese Americans (FZAs) are a subculture of Chinese Americans who immigrated to the US from the city of Fuzhou in Fujian, China. Fuzhounese migration to the US predominantly occurred in the 1980s and 1990s through private organizations who focused on helping people settle in other countries for better opportunities.
In the last couple of decades, China didn’t promote education in rural areas where there was an intense labor shortage, as well. To pursue greater opportunities, Fuzhounese immigrants found their way to America. They quickly plugged themselves into a network of Chinese restaurants, where they worked tirelessly to pay off their debt and support their families. The entrepreneurial spirit of the FZAs led many of them to start their own businesses when they’d saved enough to do so or were able to take a loan from a “Hui” (an unofficial community-based loan-sharing initiative led mostly by relatives and trusted friends).
New York City has the largest FZA community in the US. As FZAs began to open more takeout restaurants in NYC, they ventured to other cities and states with less competition for better business opportunities. Many first and second generation children grew up helping parents in their restaurants, which instilled a strong work ethic.
Fuzhou America is a community-based nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing together people of Fuzhou descent. Its mission is to bridge the gap by empowering the next generation of Fuzhounese Americans.
Local Small Business & Mural Inspiration
This mural is located on the storefront of Macaron Parlour which is owned by Simon Tung, an American business owner of Fuzhounese descent whose family immigrated to the US in the 1990s. In this mural, we find a quintessential cross-cultural bridge between the Fuzhounese Chinese and American cultures.
Simon's family came to America through the typical Fuzhounese immigration route. His family worked in take-out restaurants and sweat shops in Chinatown. Simon grew up a happy-go-lucky child who absorbed the work-hard model from his family. He’s been working since he was twelve, at first as a factory worker sewing belt loops.
When Simon met his wife Christina Ha, a pastry chef, the couple combined their love for Asian food and pastry with their Fuzhounese Chinese American upbringing and culture to create the Macaron Parlour.