Paul Wong, 2020
Museum of Vancouver
Nov 19, 2020 – Jan 2022
Mother’s Cupboard was previously presented in three variations, Transit Shelter Series (2018-2019), Private/Public/Lives, (New Delhi, India, 2019) and as part of the exhibition 淑芳你好嘛 (Suk-Fong Nay Ho Mah) / Suk-Fong, How Are You? (2019). In 2020, Mother’s Cupboard was part of A Seat at the Table, Chinese Immigration and British Columbia at the Museum of Vancouver. A Seat at the Table explored historical and contemporary stories of Chinese Canadians in BC and their struggles for belonging. It looks to food and restaurant culture as an entry point to feature stories that reveal the great diversity of immigrant experience and of the communities immigrants develop. The exhibition is an opportunity to consider the contributions that Chinese migrants and their descendants have made to British Columbia, a province built from the interaction of successive and concurrent waves of migration and uninterrupted occupation by Indigenous peoples.
The 2020 iteration of Mother’s Cupboard features 83 jars from Suk-Fong’s cupboards. Viewers were able to appreciate Suk-Fong’s meticulous organization, labelling, and categorization of her herbs and elixirs contained in recycled western -brand jars, ie. Nabob Coffee, Classico, Miracle Whip, and Taster’s Choice jars. The exhibition also included the Mother’s CupboardVideo (2020). Recorded in 2012 in her kitchen, Suk-Fong takes her son through her collection of Chinese medicines, herbs, and ingredients. She speaks in her first language, Toisanese, and describes what her homemade compounds are used for. This includes “loik doy dew,” a deer-antler, alcohol-based elixir that she adds to soups. Most of her ingredients can be readily found in Chinese herbal stores.
Below: Private/Public/Lives, (New Delhi, India, 2019)