Exploring the Significance of Chinatowns with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month Artist, Chantine Akiyama Poh

We are so happy to be celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with this beautiful piece by artist Chantine Akiyama Poh! This piece is extra special to us as it celebrates our home in Boston’s beloved Chinatown, as part of a bigger story about the beautiful significance of Chinatowns – and the fantastic food you’ll find in them – in many cities! Thanks, Chantine, for sharing your story and art with us!

Statement from the Artist:

Chinatown is a portal to my heritage.

In this drawing, the setting is the iconic Doyers Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown, a windy road reserved for pedestrians. The pavers with mahjong tile designs nod toward the large groups of elderly folks who gather to play in the nearby Columbus Park. I’ve collaged into the storefronts my favorite vendors from other parts of NY and Boston Chinatown. From left to right: Wanpo tea shop hails from my mother’s hometown of Taichung, Taiwan; Ho Yuen Bakery is where I bought lunch and practiced Mandarin when I worked in Boston’s Chinatown; Taiwan Pork Chop House brings nostalgic tears to my Taiwanese partner’s eyes; Yu & Me Books houses works of my favorite AAPI authors; and Kong Sihk Tong is a Hong Kong-style restaurant my dear friend must visit each time he comes to New York. These places allow me to taste what my ancestors tasted, and engage with the diaspora. Populating the sky are favorite foods: dumplings, baos, haw flakes, noodle soup, fruit tea, and sauces. Though I haven’t met most of my ancestors, these foods, like celestial bodies, point me toward a shared embodied experience with those who came before me.

– Chantine Akiyama Poh, May 2024

About Chantine:

Chantine Akiyama Poh is a Taiwanese-Japanese-American multimodal artist and teacher whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Hopkins Review, PoemTalk, Harvard GSD Platform, and elsewhere. Winner of Ghost Proposal’s 2023 Ultraslant Prize for Visual Poetry, she holds a Master of Architecture from Harvard GSD and an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers Newark.