Memories to Light is an outdoor, projected screening of Asian American home movies presented by experimental filmmaker Chet Canlas with live and recorded musical accompaniment by local musicians Danny Clay and Theresa Wong. In conjunction with Next to You, McEvoy Arts commissions Clay and Wong to compose and perform an original score informed by the Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) ongoing initiative to preserve and present twentieth century Asian American home movies.
Home movies are the moving image equivalent of a personal letter, a diary, or a family journal. The digitized 8mm and 16mm films in Memories to Light capture extraordinary scenes of ordinary Asian American life from the 1960s through the present while Clay and Wong’s harmonious compositions bridge field recordings, spoken word, and improvisational techniques to conjure an immersive physical space filled by the power of performance and the possibility of togetherness. Clay and Wong—who previously performed together in 2018 at McEvoy Arts—contribute a theatrical soundscape through acoustic and electronic instrumentation that explores the potential for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike.
Experience the sights and sounds of Memories to Light at Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground, made possible with support from the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. Memories to Light is one of several artist commissions created for Neon Was Never Brighter, an urban festival of light and sound from 7–10pm that reflects on Chinatown’s resilience and fortitude by honoring its unique history and diverse cultural landscape. The festival is presented by Chinatown Media & Arts Collaborative (CMAC) and curated by Candace Huey of re.riddle. All programs are free and open to the public.
Danny Clay is a composer and educator whose work is deeply rooted in curiosity, collaboration, and the sheer joy of making things with people of all ages and levels of artistic experience. As a composer he has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Wu Man, Volti, the People’s Music School of Chicago, Sarah Cahill, and printmaker Jon Fischer. His work has been performed nationally and internationally and has been presented by the deYoung Museum, San Francisco; San Francisco Performances; McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco; and the Meaney Center for the Arts, Seattle, among others. He has taught at Stanford University, San Francisco State University, the Crowden Music Center, and Zion Lutheran School in San Francisco. In 2020, he designed and implemented the curriculum for Kronos Quartet’s pilot music program for third graders in the SF Unified School District, “Kronos Music: DIY!” Clay works and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist, and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation, and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Her works include As We Breathe, an installed song commissioned by Long Beach Opera for the 2020 Songbook, and She Dances Naked Under Palm Trees for The Future Is Female project, among others. Her multi-media piece, The Unlearning (Tzadik) premiered in 2013 at Roulette, Brooklyn, and was also presented at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Current and past commissions include works for Splinter Reeds, The San Francisco Girls Chorus, Vajra Voices, and Del Sol String Quartet. Wong has shared her work internationally at venues including Fondation Cartier, Paris; Cafe Oto, London; Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea, Morelia, Mexico; and The Stone, New York. Wong is a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow and has also been an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Lijiang Studio, and Yaddo. She currently works and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) has been dedicated for 40 years to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. As a nonprofit organization, CAAM funds, produces, distributes, and exhibits works in film, television, and digital media. CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), celebrates the world’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian film, food, and music programs. CAAM is the recipient of the 2021 Peabody Award for the co-production of PBS documentary series Asian Americans.
Memories to Light is a co-production of the Center for Asian American Media, the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, and McEvoy Arts in conjunction with the exhibition Next to You.