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Gum Shan 金山 (Gold Mountain)
by Nancy Pratt

At a recent event, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Nancy Pratt, an accomplished West Coast artist who is gifted with a lyrical watercolor technique. It was such a thrill to see her new watercolor painting - "Gum Shan" (金山 / Gold Mountain) which depicts the history as well as dream and hope of Chinese Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.

  “What made you interested in painting Chinese American history?” I questioned her out of curiosity.

Pratt said that she truly empathizes with the pain, rejection, humiliation and destitution that many Chinese immigrants suffered when they first arrived in the San Francisco Bay in the 19th century working as laborers in the mining and railroad industries. She also shares the joy with many Chinese American families whose dreams have been fulfilled today.

As I examined her painting, my interest in knowing more about her and her work grew. “How were you able to capture the essence of each individual and event so vividly in your painting?” I asked.

Pratt explained, “My unique niche of montage method tells the story in one overall view and my own personal passion comes through.”

“Where do you get all your information and what are some of your other works?” I inquired.

“I primarily have depended on the noted San Francisco Chinese historian, Phillip Choy.  I use his research and writings which are used throughout the California university and college systems....."

"Dr. Kevin Starr, California State Librarian and Chair of the California Sesquicentennial, chose my montage - The Discovery of Gold and the Gold Rush, to be used for the state celebration. They also commissioned a mural of California women in history, the California orange industry, and the tall ships in California. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors chose me to depict the 150 years of Fresno County history for the Hall of Records. The California Masons, headquartered in San Francisco, commissioned and reproduced their 150 year celebration montage for all their lodges in California. The Pioneer Cemetery Column-barium of CPC Presbyterian, Fremont, partnered with me and my son for its creation and for four outdoor tile murals of local history.....”

I was very impressed not only by Pratt's artistic ability and credentials, but also by her deep appreciation and strong passion to portray the Chinese American history.

“So, what are you going to do with Gum Shan”? I asked my final question.

To my great surprise, Nancy shared that she would like to dedicate this beautiful and meaningful art piece to an institute that will appreciate it. She would like to find a good home for it in places like the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, San Francisco City Hall, etc.

FUSS is proud to partner with Ms. Pratt, and would like to help her find a good place for Gum Shan. If you have any suggestions or leads, please contact us at fuss4schools@gmail.com.  For more information about Nancy Pratt and her work, please go to her website at www.nancypratt.com