Artist Statement: In 2020, I developed anxiety due to unhealthy relationship and Covid. Because of that, I stopped making art for a few months. In September 2020, I ran into a group of Chinese climber bouldering in the Twin Cities Bouldering Center. We then clicked instantly because we are Chinese and we speak the same language. To me, gym is a very unwelcoming place. And due to my anxiety, I do not want to spend my time alone in the gym. But things changed after I ran into the Chinese climbing community. They invited me to climb in the gym and outdoor together constantly. After climbing for 3 months, I realized that I no longer feeling anxious. I know that I learned how to focus when I climb and not to overthink. I then made use of it outside of climbing. Climbing is not only improving my mental health and also physical health. It also allows me to focus on making art again. Hence, I questioned myself, why am I not combining art making and climbing together, since two of the activities are important to me in my life. Climbing have traditionally been a very Caucasian/white sport especially in the Minnesota. I was fortunate enough to had run into a group of climbers who looked like me: hair, skin and language. Through that connection, I now feel like I have a community within the sport and a place where I belong. As a minority within the climbing community, I am curious to understand why are the Asian climbers got into this sports? I am also curious to learn of other positive changes that this sport has done to them mentally and physically. I hope with the photographs display will tell the stories on why other Asian climbers climb, and what keep them climbing for a long time and what are the changes occurred.
Artist Bio: Yong is a fine art photographer and multidisciplinary artist. A fear of loss, generational trauma, and curiosity motivate him to make photographs. Yong’s Occupation series investigates his identity as a second-generation Chinese immigrant in Malaysia as well as a new immigrant to the U.S. Producing the Occupation series has not only helped him achieve a sense of belonging in both places, but also allows him to connect with family and strangers alike. Yong’s C-H-F investigates what motivates Asian climbers to take part in what is considered a “White” sport. He is also the co-founder of CarryOn Homes, a collaborative dedicated to telling the stories of immigrants and refugees in the US through art. By engaging the public in cross-cultural dialogue, CarryOn Homes creates spaces for immigrants and marginalized communities to feel a sense of belonging and empowerment.