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Wishing Tree Alter (2023) - Soft Recreation, Hollywood, Los Angeles

Inspired by the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees in Hong Kong, where visitors write their wishes on joss paper tied to an orange and hang them on the trees during the Lunar New Year, Young created an immersive installation alter at Soft Recreation in Hollywood to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, February 2023.

This Wishing Tree alter serves as a stage and portal showcasing the magical mix of rituals and celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year, while representing the hybrid communities and influences in Los Angeles Asian diaspora, where Eastern and Western cultures, colors, and energies intricately connect.


This piece was added to, interacted with, and brought to life by all attendees, as a portal and sacred space to commence the Year of the Dragon. Attendees openly and freely expressed their feelings, conducted sacred rituals, summoning the energy of the dragon. On the right side of the installation, amongst imagery that evoked fire, water, decay, and death, they were asked to write what they seek to leave behind and release it, by dipping the piece of golden joss paper into a bowl of water and watching the ink fade. On the left side of the installation, amongst imagery which connoted life and rebirth, they were asked to write their wish for the coming year on golden joss paper and hang it onto the red strings, with oranges suspended at the bottom - evocative of the traditional wishing trees in Hong Kong. 

Trees serve as spiritual teachers for humans and cultures around the world. In Japan, during the Tanabata festival in the Edo period, the custom was to use dew left on taro leaves to create the ink used to write wishes. In Ireland - small strips of cloth, ribbons or prayer beads are tied to some trees as a healing ritual or to wish for good health. And in China, red ribbons are tied to wishing trees for good fortune during Lunar new year celebrations. These type of rituals have been conducted world wide for centuries. 


Alters provide sacred space and portals to the unseen world, an invitation to open up and interact with higher powers. This installation combined Faith-Ann's chiffon flags, with fruit, flowers, and other sacred emblems and offerings, and also served also for the artist as a way to celebrate, honor and commune with her grandmother and muse, Faith Akiko Yamato, who passed away last year and whose anniversary of her passing was the same week of this installation. The artist filled the installation with her cherished possessions and sacred amulets, including Kokeshi dolls and abalone shells. 

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