The Chinese culture is steeped in traditions and symbolism that dictate how we celebrate the new year. From how you prepare your home to how you prepare your food; each symbol represents a promising and favorable fresh start. Bank of America wanted to honor these meaningful symbols with their Homage to Chinatown.
“Bank of America is proud to support San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade for 61 years, making us the longest-standing sponsor of the storied event. Our history with Chinatown began in 1928 when Bank of America opened its first branch in the neighborhood,” said Gioia McCarthy, Bank of America market president for San Francisco and the East Bay. “This year, the bank’s Homage to Chinatown ox design celebrates the deep customs and imageries of the Chinese culture. The 2021 virtual parade will be one to remember as it brings together San Francisco’s diverse cultures and communities.”
The Homage to Chinatown is a modern take on the traditional blue and white Chinese Porcelain motifs with auspicious symbols and references to Chinatown. Spring flora, such as the peony and lotus, represent wealth, success, and purity. The golden tail of the Phoenix, a swallow, and a dragonfly symbolizes luck and family. The artist’s use of the red lanterns is meant to reflect the strings of hanging lanterns and the various areas of teal green mimic the iconic tiled roofs of Chinatown. Clouds and ocean waves found on the legs and hooves of the Ox symbolize good wishes, peace, and hope for the future.
Bank of America has been a long-time partner with Chinatown CDC, a place-based community development organization, committed to empowering low-income residents, diversity and coalition building, and social and economic justice, and has chosen to continue their support with the proceeds of this Ox.
Artist Bio: Deyi (Robin) Zhao
Deyi (Robin) Zhao was born in Jilin, China, and came to the US when she was 9 years old. Her grandmother, Yumei Hou, had been in San Francisco for many years already and was the main carver for all of the SF Chinese New Year statues for nearly 30 years. When Robin and her father arrived in SF, he got a job building the floats and Robin grew up helping paint and decorate the floats alongside her biological family, and the other artists who would grow to become her second family.
Being surrounded by both traditional art forms and new digital media, Robin has developed a keen eye for art and design. In addition to her years of working on Parade Floats, at the young age of 19 she has also taught various arts and crafts classes to children and adults, interned at YouTube, and is now in her first year of college at the California College of the Arts.
Learn more about the Ox on Parade and don’t forget to enter our photo contest. From February 3 – March 14, snap a picture of you and the Ox, tag us @chineseparade, and use the hashtag #oxonparade. It’s that simple! See official rules here.