Bamboo lanterns land at Civic Center for Chinese New Year

A new art installation of six vase-shaped bamboo lanterns in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza officially launched Monday night in celebration of the Chinese New Year.

Hong Kong artist Freeman Lau created the art installation called “Sui Sui Ping An – Peace All Year Round.”

LED lights installed inside the vases will illuminate the vases each night. Craftsmen from Hong Kong used bamboo strips to pop up the six vases, which from 16- to 20-feet high, according the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, who sponsored the art installation.

On all six vases, Lau put 19th century surnames of Chinese families of those who immigrated to the United States. Lau said while families may have had one Chinese surname, the surnames translated into many surnames in English:

“From all these translations tells not only the origin of the family, but also other stories too.”

Freeman Lau debuts his art installation at Civic Center Plaza. Six vases will light up at night.

A photo posted by Jerold Chinn (@jerold_chinn) on

Lau said the book “Chinese American Names: Tradition and Transition” by Emma Woo Louie inspired him to include the surnames on the vases.

The vases themselves also play a critical role in the art installation. The word “vase” in Chinese sounds similar to the word “peace” and is often used in the phrase “peace and safety.”

San Francisco Art Commission President J.D. Beltran said the new installation continues the transition of The City showcasing large-scaled artwork in Civic Center Plaza:

“It allows artists to respond creatively to timely issues such as the celebration of the Lunar New Year and the commemoration of special moments in time and history.”

Clement Leung, a commissioner for the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs, based in Washington D.C., said that Lau’s exhibition was just beginning of events to not only mark the celebration of the Chinese New Year, but also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of China taking back control of Hong Kong from the British:

“The milestone is not only an occasion for celebration, but also an opportunity to appreciate the uniqueness of Hong Kong, people and of our culture.”

Lau’s art installation will be on display until March 10 in the plaza. The Asian Art Museum will display 6-foot bamboo lantern just blocks away.