Whitehot Magazine

Whitehot Recommends: Siyan Wong: Lives of Three Canners: New York's Chinese Elderly Immigrants

Siyan Wong.

By WM October 30, 2023

From the press release:

About the Exhibition:

Lives of Three Canners: New York's Chinese Elderly Immigrants 

Gallery 456 at CAAC, 456 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Soho, NYC (elevator building)

On view October 28 – November 17, 2023

Opening Reception (Public): Saturday, 10/28 at 2pm

Siyan Wong’s nine new paintings show the lives of today’s Chinese elderly immigrants who collect cans and bottles for redemption. These oil paintings visually situate the viewers in the past and present moments lived by each of the three canners - as young adults in China from 1960s to 1980s, as middle-age low-wage immigrant workers in New York City from 1990s to 2000s, and as elderly canners today. Her subjects represent recent Chinese immigrants in Chinatown and the Lower East Side whose lives were defined by their employment in garment factories, restaurants, and home care - work that often make these non-English speakers vulnerable to various labor law violations but which they must accept in order to make a living.

Additionally, this exhibition features two collaborated conceptual installations with artist and filmmaker Alvin Tsang that highlight the work of canners. 

This exhibition is made possible by the New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA), the Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC), and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).

Siyan’s work has been exhibited at Governor’s Island, National Arts Club, New York Arts Center, and Equity Gallery (founded by social realist painter Jacob Lawrence). She has given talks about her art practice and social justice at the Asia Society, The Black Institute and various universities. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Artist Equity Association (NYAE). 

Follow her on Instagram @artistsiyanwong, and her website is www.siyanwong.com.

Beyond the exhibition opening:

On Saturday, November 4th at 3pm, Siyan is moderating a panel discussion, “Heart to Heart with People Who Collect Cans: How, Why, and What are the Solutions?” Participating on the panel are Lynn Lewis (teacher, activist and former executive director of Picture the Homeless); Jean Rice (founding board member of PTH, a former homeless and a canner); and members of Sure We Can (a nonprofit bottles and cans redemption center in Brooklyn). 

On Saturday, November 11th at 3pm, Siyan will give an artist talk about her paintings and art practice. WM



Whitehot writes about the best art in the world - founded by artist Noah Becker in 2005. 


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