Background: PLACE began with a 2009 de Young Museum artists’ residency curated by Cynthia Tom (then board president of the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA)). She posed a simple curatorial question to nine Asian American (AA) artists, “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?” Surprisingly, participants shared stories of deep trauma, incest, and violence. Since then the program continued to grow as 5-8 day workshops and multiple art exhibitions, most notably at SOMArts Cultural Center in 2011 and 2015.
Then in 2014-15 and 2016, with partial funding from San Francisco Arts Commission, PLACE expanded to its current 6-month workshop format, culminating in an art exhibition and thought stirring events. Alumnae include Asian, Latina, African American and Caucasian women, attracting mainly social service providers in need of healing.
In 2015, PLACE transitioned into a standalone organization, separating from AAWAA in order to serve a broader base of women, WOC in particular. PLACE, first created to address the AA culture of silencing women and remaining a close community partner with AAWAA, is now open to all WOC and fills a much-needed space of a WOC artistic leadership model for healing and growth.