Leon Sun has been a silkscreen printmaker for 43 years. His work is a visual repository for the history of San Francisco’s Asian American Movement, the people who lived it and his own evolving relationship with what it means to be Asian American.
“That moment was crucial for me because a lot of people were taking stands against imperialism,” said Sun. “To see Asians stand up that way and be fierce and unafraid to state their politics was moving to me.”
An immigrant from Hong Kong, Sun came to San Francisco in 1969 with little savings after attending college in Michigan. When he stumbled onto Chinatown a few months after arriving, he decided to stay.
Most weekends, you can find the 74-year-old Sun meditating in the shade of the Zen garden at his home on Turk Street, where he’s lived for more than 30 years. Incense smoke swirls around his still form and nearby ferns.
“I discovered the relationship between Buddhism and silkscreen printing over time,” Sun said, reflecting on the intersection of his artistic practice and his spirituality. In his early days making prints, he lacked patience. “I learned to slow things down and enjoy every part of the process.”
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