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A Hometown Souvenir

by Sara Chao


 Leiminspace is proud to present A Hometown Souvenir, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based installation artist Sara Chao. The opening reception will take place on the evening ofSaturday, May 12, 2018, from 7-10 pm at 443 Lei Min Way in Chinatown, Los Angeles. Please join us for wine, water, lumpia, pichi pichi, turon, dim sum and more flavorful delights. The show will remain open to the public 1-6 pm, Wednesday - Sunday, until June 2nd, 2018. Various activities and events will be hosted by Sara Chao throughout the month as part of the exhibition.
     In A Hometown Souvenir, Sara Chao composes an immersive installation of ephemera and drawings that materially chronicles a young life spent chiefly in the city of Los Angeles. With both sides of her family having immigrated to LA, the city sprawl is itself a souvenir that holds the entirety of her family’s history in the United States. This has prompted Chao to archive both her past and present as she moves about this familiar place. Free-floating or encased in bags of clear plastic are LA sediments collected carefully by the artist. Crinkled Super King bags, yellowed postcards, metallic streamers, pressed sorrel blossoms, an In-N-Out container, melted sweet sixteen candles and pastel conversation hearts float throughout the space, creating a fragmented, twinkling lullaby of memories for visitors to explore. Hovering in conversation, but disoriented by space and age, Chao’s collections form an environment that echoes the atomized space of memory. Among the installation are more traditional works on flat surfaces of various opacities. Hand-drawn maps mark significant places in the lives of Chao and her family throughout their lives in LA. She hyper-focuses into these trajectories; replicas of saved letters and rubbings of plaques materialize moments from either sides of her family history. The multiplicities of carefully drawn zigzags overlaid and scattered throughout the installation allow the viewer to zoom out from the artist’s individual life and into Los Angeles as a collective whole. In a larger map of the Southland, Chao encourages visitors to mark places of significance in their own lives. Joyous invitations to throw confetti or mail LA postcards to friends infuse the show with a spirit that celebrates and revels in the small details of existence. A Hometown Souvenir honors the intimate emotions of loyalty and affection that one inevitably feels toward the place they call home.

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