Placesetting combines the utilitarian objects of a table setting with the art, necessity, emotion and politics of creating home and community. Finding housing and creating a place to call home is particularly relevant in our current economic crisis but it is also a common thread through all human experience. This project is specific to this site and the Chinatown and Manilatown communities. San Francisco’s culture is rooted in the many different peoples who have made their homes here, and the history and struggle associated with the International Hotel (I-Hotel) is just one example of the many individual and collective struggles behind that effort to find a “setting” place – a home.

The Placesetting exhibit offers “souvenirs” to display or to use, as works of art, as remembrances or as objects of curiosity. Images from the Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s Archival Project, poems of Al Robles, Serafin Syquia, Nancy Hom, Genny Lim and Oscar Penaranda, saved newspaper articles lent by Mrs, Lee, objects from the Filipino and Chinese community and imagery responding to the metaphors, myths and memories that resonate with the artist’s own experience growing up in the Philippines are fired onto bought and hand cast dinnerware. Digitally printed tablecloths, placemats and coasters are canvases for the installation.

As art or as utility ceramics has built civilizations. They are the precious remains of archeological sites from which we piece together the past. They are the kitsch objects that line the shelves of the avid collector. They are the “revolutionary ceramics” of the Constructivists, feminist classics like Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” and astounding public art of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona. California has its own rich history in the development of ceramic arts and experiments in individual, public, community art and practices. “Placesetting” sets a table for this occasion, this place, this aesthetic of the home and the museum, for the everyday and for history.

Asian Art Museum Spacebi Project:


International Hotel Manilatown Center
868 Kearny, San Francisco