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caption: Wing Luke Museum 2019 Lunar New Year fair 
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Wing Luke Museum 2019 Lunar New Year fair
Credit: Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum

Wing Luke Museum Lunar New Year event invites community celebration

The Lunar New Year celebration continues in Seattle with a fair at the Wing Luke Museum on Saturday. Joël Barraquiel Tan is the museum’s executive director. He talked to KUOW’s Kim Malcolm about recent events and gave her a preview of the festivities.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Kim Malcolm: Your museum put out a statement this week addressing the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. The statement said that the importance of gathering as a community has never been stronger. How are you thinking about the celebration this weekend, given the recent violence?

Joël Barraquiel Tan: It's unfortunate that the recent violence can potentially overshadow the joy of what this Lunar New Year is for many different cultures, for many different communities. We're not about denying the reality. We're not about denying our humanity. We acknowledge that we are living in really quickly shifting times with lots of things that are out of control.

I don't know of any other choice but to lean in, to what is generative, what is positive, and what is hopeful about this occasion. And I think it’s fitting that we're moving from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit or the Cat. In many ways, we move into or at least aspire to gentler times.

You have invited the entire community to gather in the Chinatown International District to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Tell us a bit about what it's like.

If you like lion dances, if you like amazing art activities, if you love people watching, and if you love great food, and just being together, especially after what we've all been through with quarantine, this is for you. We really do want people to experience this, not only for the inherent joy that comes with it but really to connect this current moment in this time of pandemic and social reckoning to really embrace what the lion dance means. That's really to have ritual together in bringing in good luck for the next year, and ushering out what is no longer working — evil spirits, bad intentions, past hurts — to begin anew.

I know children especially can be just mesmerized by the lion dance. What do you have planned for kids to enjoy during the day?

There's a full schedule of storytelling. There's going to be lots of different kinds of art supplies for kids of all ages. It really brings out the kid in everybody when we invite folks to make things with us. If you love calligraphy, you're going to love it with our instructor, Maggie Ho. And we're going to be doing some ceramics work with master artist Ling Chun. And it would not be a Lunar New Year for us if there weren't raffle prizes, so that’s why you have to stick around.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.