Come You Back to Maynila Bay is a community engagement printmaking project by Karl Orozco that uses hand-carved mahjong tiles to retell family narratives of his lola’s underground gambling den in the Philippines. In partnership with Think!Chinatown and ChaShaMa, Orozco will activate the space at 384 Broadway to create a public game hall and lead intergenerational printmaking workshops with Chinatown’s youth and elders.
As a Filipino-American artist and educator, Karl Orozco’s work grapples with the legacy of colonialism and seeks to challenge assumed notions of family, migration and power. Influenced by Tagalog creation myths, sociolinguistic research, and historical accounts of colonial resistance, Orozco has deconstructed meaning throughout the traditional Chinese mahjong tile set and reinterpreted them for a Philippine worldview. Orozco wrestles with the cultural dominance of the Philippines and seeks to reclaim a visual heritage lost through centuries of inter-Pacific trade, Spanish colonization and U.S. imperialism.
Orozco will run printmaking workshops throughout Sundays in May where he will invite audience members to play games of mahjong and create printed “bills” recording their winning hands. Inspired by his lola’s Manila gambling den – conceived to keep her absent husband homebound – and by his own childhood experiences being told that mahjong was “a game for adults”, Orozco hopes to create an inclusive gaming space where participants of all ages feel engaged and leave lucky.
Karl Orozco is an artist and educator based in Queens, NY. Orozco is a teaching artist at the Queens Museum where he teaches sequential art, printmaking and animation. Orozco was a fellow at the 2018 Denver Independent Comics and Art Expo. In 2017, his sci-fi comic Low Tide was featured in New Frontiers, a comics anthology and exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum dedicated to the life and activism of actor George Takei. He is the upcoming 2018 National Artist-In-Residence at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, NV where he will continue his mahjong print practice and transform the downtown Vegas gallery into a public casino.
384 Broadway is a temporary art space presented by THINK!CHINATOWN and Chashama. With the mission to increase representation of Asian American artists and themes of concern to our community, this project seeks to test new ways galleries in Chinatown can better engage the neighborhood with cross-cultural and inter-generational practices. This project is not a commercial endeavor and is largely run on the energy of community volunteers.
THINK!CHINATOWN is a collective of neighbors and advocates working to keep Chinatown a vibrant place of inter-generational learning, cultural production & civic engagement. We are here to listen, to respond, and to build Chinatown’s capacities as a strong immigrant neighborhood of NYC. Our mission is to attract & connect resources for Chinatown organizations & businesses using the tools of design & community engagement. Join us in connecting past, present & future to ensure a resilient Chinatown.