Katie Salisbury | Thank You Enjoy

by BJ Panda Bear

They arrive in your hands via the oyster pail, a folded, plastic-coated paperboard container usually donned with a handle made from wire. It is, of course, Chinese take-out food, a defining, shining symbol for the mid-week dinner exhaustion. Yet have you considered the hands who prepared your Sweet n’ Sour Chicken, Wonton Soup, and Eggrolls? 

Katie Salisbury, a photographer, and journalist living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn originally considered snapping pictures and capturing interviews with the workers in the Chinese restaurants for a photo essay. Flash forward three years later and she’s given Ted Talks, enjoyed long-form articles about her project in The Ringer, and created a photography exhibition which has made its way all throughout America. 

The project, titled Thank You Enjoy, also took on a personal note for Salisbury. As a fourth-generation Chinese American, she discovered a little known fact about her own family history. “To my surprise, I discovered a forgotten piece of the past that only my great aunt, Lilian Wong, was still privy to. Her father Gee Kee Ward, my great-grandfather, an immigrant from Toisan, China, had himself owned and operated a Chinese restaurant across the street from Union Station in Los Angeles during the 1940s.”

You can catch this intimate and revealing photography exhibition on display at Lisa Derrick’s Fine Arts on Chung King Road in Chinatown. This Saturday, August 10th at 7 p.m., in accordance with Chinatown Summer Nights, Katie Salisbury will be giving a short artists talk at the gallery. Thank You Enjoy will be on display until August 24th.