What is FFS?
Project History
2003 Exhibition
Gallery of Past Exhibits
FFS in the Classroom

Collaborating organizations:

Japanese American
National Museum

California African
American Museum

Chinese American

Self-Help Graphics

Korean American

Plaza de la Raza

Watts Towers
Arts Center

Santa Barbara Museum
of Natural History

Skirball Museum

About the participating organizations

Japanese American National Museum

The Japanese American National Museum has been honored to work with three important community institutions in co-presenting finding family stories. Leadership, staff, and volunteers have worked together over three years to develop an exciting model of community-based, cross-cultural, and cross-institutional collaboration.

Previous finding family stories partnerships resulted in strong working relationships between staff and volunteers. This most recent collaboration has incorporated opportunities for Board members of the four institutions to work together, finding shared visions and goals for our roles as ethnic and cultural institutions within a city like Los Angeles. We truly believe finding family stories is an important model for many local and national cultural institutions, in bringing together diverse organizations, communities, artists, and audiences. We are grateful for the dedication of the Board members who have contributed to the success of finding family stories.

Acknowledgment goes to the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and its General Manager, Marjorie Reese, for their support of this project. A special thank you to Claudia Sobral, Project Director, and the team who worked hard to ensure the project was of the highest quality, relevant to each institution, and a rewarding experience for everyone involved in its creation.

Irene Y. Hirano
Executive Director & President

Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Call 213.625.0414 or visit www.janm.org
for more information and hours.
Exhibition dates: March 14-July 6, 2003

California African American Museum

We at the California African American Museum are embarking upon a new phase in our history. The museum has recently undergone an extensive renovation and has been closed for over a year and half. In planning for programming and exhibitions for the reopening, the museum staff and I have given a great deal of thought to the concept of family, its place in history and culture, and our institutional responsibility to be "keepers of the flame."

Our primary goal is to capture the attention and imaginations of families. It is through the family that we educate and enlighten young and old alike, explore new and engaging territories, pass on societal values, share stories and experiences that represent the fabric and fiber of our culture, and ultimately, preserve our place in history for future generations. And, the concept of family that I am musing over is not just limited to familial relations, but to those who support us and nurture our growth.

As cultural lines blur in this ever growing global economy, it becomes incumbent upon all cultural institutions, regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity to draw upon these notions of family and invite new visitors into our edifices, as if they were our homes, in order to share our history and culture. The finding family stories project, with its collaboration among distinct partnering institutions, is a unique way to enlarge our "family." So I invite you into our new "home" to support our growth, experience our stories, and nurture us in our endeavor to translate the African American experience.

David Crippens
Interim Executive Director

California African American Museum
600 State Drive, Exposition Park
Los Angeles, California 90037
Call 213.744.2077 or visit www.caam.ca.gov
for more information and hours.
Exhibition dates: April 5-July 19, 2003

Chinese American Museum at the El Pueblo Gallery

The finding family stories project has been a wonderful collaboration, allowing the participating institutions and artists to share memories of families, communities, cultural traditions, and the ingenious interpretations of that communal lifestyle.

Through the process of continuous dialogue, art works have been created, and programs and exhibitions have been successfully produced. All the while we have learned to surmount the challenges of coalitional work. This project has brought together museum colleagues and artists from diverse communities, and enabled us to work cooperatively to make artistic products that reach into the hearts of our communities, in a way we would not have normally done.

We have been excited to be involved because the Chinese American Museum is in its early development phase. These project opportunities and experiences help us to portray diversity in its proper context and appreciation.

By participating in the finding family stories project, we have come to cherish the way we communicate and work with one another, even though we come from diverse backgrounds. The atmosphere of mutual support and interactive consultation has built strong creative relations among partners and helped us appreciate each other’s role in the rich mélange of our American experience.

Suellen Cheng
Executive Director

Chinese American Museum
125 Paseo de la Plaza, Suite 400
Los Angeles, California 90012
Call 213.626.5240 or visit www.camla.org
for more information and hours.
Exhibition dates: March 16-April 12, 2003

Self-Help Graphics & Art

finding family stories is the ambitious endeavor of those brave partnering artists and institutions to take the well-intended, but often overstated, ideal of living in a diverse Southern California atmosphere and make it into a tangible reality. Truth, dreams, and legacies are revealed through the creativity and vision of the artists. Conflicts, internal and external, and the tensions of living in Los Angeles are uncovered as well. Their family stories are collected as points on a common path, as well as points along the unfamiliar. By soliciting the uniqueness of these personal narratives, we uncover the larger story that binds us all--the human experience.

Being involved in the project has been one of the most challenging and affirming experiences for Self-Help Graphics & Art, as an organization, as well as for the individuals involved. We have made friends and earned a broader audience, met artists, and enjoyed the creation of new art. Yet the crux of such collaboration over the years has been to realize that it is possible to do what art can do given its full potential and power: to create change and improve upon the quality of life for all.

Tomás Benitez
Executive Director

Self-Help Graphics & Art
3802 Cesar Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90063
Call 323.881.6444 or visit www.selfhelpgraphics.com
for more information and hours.
Exhibition dates: April 3-April 20, 2003

Follow these links to learn more about how this exhibition came into being:
2003 Exhibition Main Page
Curatorial Essay
Project Mission
About the participating organizations

An Arts Partnership Project of the Japanese American National Museum

The finding family stories Project was made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Weingart Foundation, and Japanese American National Museum Members and Donors.

What is FFS? Project History 2003 Exhibition Gallery of Past Exhibits FFS in the Classroom