The Project...

The new 21,000 square foot East Oakland Community Library at 81st Avenue will feature public art by artist Rene Yung, commissioned by the City of Oakland Cultural Arts & Marketing Division. Ms. Yung developed the artwork around the theme of Mutuality + Transformation, to highlight the interrelation between individuals and their actions, and address the social fragmentation symptomatic of community civic crisis. The theme is conveyed by an icon with stylized overlapping ripples that symbolize community interconnection and replenishment.

Ms. Yung designed the artwork as three linked components that will engage the architectural space, as well as the library’s community – in cyberspace and on the ground.  An expanded ripple imagery will spread in architectural art glass over a 60-foot long bank of clerestory windows in the main reading room.  A web archive of community stories will be accessible online and at a dedicated touch screen in an Interactive Pod in the library. The design of the archive interface and the Pod will also incorporate the ripple iconography.  A series of community partnerships will generate digital content for the archive.

Taking an asset-based approach, Our Oakland: Eastside Stories® is about the humanity and the heritage of the East Oakland community. The digital archive will contain community stories, music, and images created by the community, about the community. It will articulate overlooked community assets along with community concerns, to present a culturally-relevant alternative to negative media portrayal of East Oakland.

Archive contents will be cross-linked to help users make dynamic connections between key community topics, the Archive 5: Our Place, Our Culture, Our History, Our Families, and Our Dreams. The archive website will be hosted by and linked to the Oakland Public Library main website. Our Oakland: Eastside Stories® is envisioned as a pilot model for a sustainable citywide program in collaboration between the Oakland Public Library, civic partners, and Oakland Public Art, to build an on-going digital archive of stories by and about Oakland’s diverse communities that will empower and connect people, communities, and place.

In collaboration with youth media and arts partners, Our Oakland: Eastside Stories® will collect seed content for the archive through intergenerational Community Story Days, to record community stories, songs, and artifacts. The bilingual Spanish/English website will launch in early 2009 with an on-line challenge for stories about East Oakland that explore Archive 5 topics. The website will have a mapping feature that will help visualize the connection between place and meaning.

The Lead Artist...

Rene Yung is a San Francisco artist, writer, designer, and educator. She works with communities to address social issues through cultural processes that link community identity, history, and sense of place. Cultural scribe and thinker as well as artist, Ms. Yung identifies and reveals complex relationships, connections, and patterns in a project, and articulates them in innovative creative forms. A native of Hong Kong, Ms. Yung has exhibited nationally and internationally, including TransCulture, part of the 46th Venice Biennale, and has conducted numerous community cultural development and public art projects nationally. A graduate of Stanford University, Yung has received grant awards from the Creative Work Fund, the California Council for the Humanities’ California Story Fund, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.

With generous support from...

The Cultural Arts & Marketing Division is the City of Oakland's local arts agency which provides services to the arts community and sponsors culturally enriching programs, exhibitions and events for Oakland citizens and visitors through its three program areas, Cultural Funding, Public Art and Special Projects.


Open Circle Foundation begins with the belief that art can constitute a vital force in the lives of individuals and communities. The Foundation seeks to encourage dialogue between the arts and the natural and urban environments by supporting projects that link the arts, the natural world, and local communities. Open Circle Foundation encourages requests for projects that improve the quality of life in a community, and enhance the human experience of the natural or urban environment.