Emily Chu’s series of seven Chinatown art prints began as a pandemic project for Chu to connect with her heritage. After receiving a grant from the Edmonton Arts Council, Chu organized a sketch club where artists could join her in Chinatown to sketch and listen to stories from longtime Chinatown members about the history of the area.
“Part of this project was to bring awareness to Chinatown and what it physically is right now, but also celebrating what it once was,” says Chu. “I’ve received a lot of people interested in purchasing them, as well as people just coming and sharing their story which was a really nice addition to this project.”
The prints feature beloved locations in Chinatown such as the All Family Happy Restaurant, Double Greeting Wonton House and the Harbin Gate. Chu never had the intention of selling her sketches, but the outpouring of support and demand encouraged her to sell the prints and use the funds to give back to the community.
“Fifty per cent of the proceeds from those three months were collected, and it wasn’t enough to give back to the community because there’s like 100 businesses, so in consultation we decided to take that money to reinvest in more art to uplift the community.”
Chu co-founded Chinatown Greetings with the funds from her art and collaborated with local artists to create Chinatown-related merchandise. One hundred per cent of the proceeds from the merchandise goes back into the community towards art and community events, programs, and initiatives in Chinatown.