Life, legacy and labels

The Worlds of Bernice Bing

Bernice Bing wore many labels during her life: artist, activist, philosopher, feminist. So many ways to be pigeonholed, and yet as a Chinese-American lesbian, Bing's very existence rejected categorization and challenged deep-seated stereotypes and prejudices.

A new documentary, The Worlds of Bernice Bing, examines the late artist's life and legacy. Born in San Francisco's Chinatown district in 1936, Bing's father died while in jail, and her waitress mother died when she was just 5. From there, Bing experienced a troubled childhood, moving from foster home to foster home. After high school, however, she used art as a means to a better life, activism and self-expression. She received a scholarship to the California College of Arts and Crafts, where she studied with Richard Diebenkorn, the noted abstract expressionist painter. After college, Bing became well-known as an avant-garde artist and a fixture on the '60s-era Beat movement. Bing also helped establish San Francisco's South of Market Cultural Center as a nonprofit and was a panelist on the National Endowment for the Arts Expansion Program.

Filmmaker Madeleine Lim directed the film, which was produced by the Asian American Women Artists Association and the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project. The Crocker Art Museum will screen the documentary on Thursday, June 26, as part of its Pride Month program. Jen Banta Yoshida and Lenore Chinn, both of whom worked with Lim on the film, will be present for a post-screening Q-and-A. Free with museum admission ($5-$10), 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, at the Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street; (916) 808-7000;