We had the good fortune of connecting with Evelyn Hang Yin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Evelyn Hang, what is the most important factor behind your success?
My definition of success lies more in the idea of working on projects and achieving goals that align with my vision rather than my individual popularity or reputation.
The most important factor behind my success is the community that I built through my work. For the past three years, I have been visiting and documenting rural historic Chinatowns in California. I have been focusing specifically on the town of Hanford, where Chinese immigrants came to help build the railroads and later stayed for farming. They eventually established China Alley, a short street that was once a prosperous Chinatown and features eleven historic buildings today.
I immersed myself in the local community of preservationists that have been taking care of the buildings and the thousands of artifacts housed inside for half a century. They trusted me with their stories and ancestral knowledge, and showed me their care and dedication. They are the backbone of my project, without whom I wouldn’t achieve the success I have accomplished as a lens-based artist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Working with photography, video, text, and installation, my work explores how my experiences moving between China and the U.S. inform my cultural identity. Invested in the excavation of history, the preservation of traditions, and the retelling of collective memories, I visited places in rural parts of the American West in search of stories from early Chinese immigrants.
Over the past three years, I photographed at old mining sites where one can find hand-stacked rock walls made of mining tailings that locals call the “Chinese walls;” at unmarked burial grounds full of body-sized indentations; and in narrow alleyways comprised of temples, herb stores, gambling houses and Chinese schools that are now either turned into museums or being actively restored by small groups of volunteers, mostly non-Chinese.
I am fortunate to have had the mentorship from artists that I admire, and the community I cultivated through my work. Finding work as a full time artist hasn’t been easy, but meeting people that I genuinely wanted to work with was definitely something that really helped me along the way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take them to museums and galleries, depending on what exhibitions are on, or a little hike up the Tongva Peak near what is called Glendale today.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
China Alley Preservation Society www.chinaalley.com
Evelyn Hang Yin