Year of the Dog celebrates the characteristics of the current Chinese zodiac animal and honors the collective memory and experiences of the Chinatown community.
Through her research, Puno was inspired by conversations she had with people who live, work, or play near Chinatown Park. She was moved by their memories of Chinatown, as well as their thoughts about the personality characteristics associated with the zodiac Dog, such as generosity, loyalty, and the ability to work well with others.
The spinnable blocks are engraved with traditional Chinese characters and excerpts of the stories that Puno collected from the community. Visitors are encouraged to turn the blocks, constructing new stories and interpretations. The meaning of a Chinese character changes based on the characters that appear before or after it, creating poetic connections that would otherwise be impossible to describe in the English language.
The format of this artwork is designed to be playful and dynamic, like Dogs, and the very act of collecting the content relied on the giving nature and collaborative spirit ascribed to this zodiac animal. Puno hopes Year of the Dog helps different generations connect through storytelling and tradition, embodying the role of the Dog as a harbinger of friendship.
The artist would like to thank all the generous people who shared their stories and memories of Chinatown for this project, especially the Asian Community Development Corporation’s A-VOYCE youth group.
Materials: wood and steel
Risa Puno is an NYC-based interactive sculpture and installation artist. She has exhibited at national and international venues, including: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, El Museo del Barrio, SculptureCenter, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, SPACES in Cleveland, OH, Galerie Stefan Röpke in Cologne, Germany, and MMX Open Art Venue in Berlin, Germany. She was recently awarded the UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant through the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and has been accepted into the 2018 John Michael Kohler Arts Center Art/Industry Residency Program. She studied art and medicine at Brown University, and earned her MFA from New York University.
Castle Square is a housing complex in Boston’s Chinatown. They’re unique teen program focuses on media literacy. The Conservancy has worked with these teens on partnered programming in the past and was thrilled to invite them back this year. The paid teen interns turned their skills to Risa Puno’s work, public art in Chinatown, and the themes of The Year of the Dog.
The 4 videos below are meant to add to your experience while exploring Puno’s artwork and enhance your understanding of this unique community.