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Samuel Rumaldo Choy 

(Panama, b. 1990)

Rumaldo Choy was born in 1990 in Panama City, to a Chinese-Panamanian family. His grandfather arrived at the port of Colón in Panama from Guangdong (Canton) in the 1930s, eventually supporting himself as a cook—a vocation that has left a deep impression on the Choy family, whose family events still revolve around Chinese dining traditions. These customs also appear as a vivid motif in Rumaldo Choy’s artwork. 

A multifaceted artist, Rumaldo Choy works in photography, painting, installation, and graphic design, with an interest in Panama’s popular culture. He studied at the Universidad de Arte Ganexa and the Universidad Santa María de la Antigua.  

Raised in an extended family of multiethnic artists, Rumaldo Choy took the curatorial lead in creating the #PANACHINA project, inviting his cousins Manuel Choy, Cisco, and Rosendo Merel Choy—all part of this exhibition—in addition to some other young artists, to contribute work evocative of their experience as members of the panachina community in Panama. This project resulted in the groundbreaking #PANACHINA exhibition at the Atelier Teatro Amador in 2014; two years later, #PANACHINA was invited to participate as a collective at a group exhibition at the Museum de Arte Contemporáneo in Panama. Selected group members were then invited to join the 2017 exhibition Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. 

For the #PANACHINA project, Rumaldo Choy has developed innovative work rooted in the traditions of Chinese food in Panama, exploring how this foreign cuisine and its customs have syncretized with local food traditions. A local maxim has it that “there is nothing more Panamanian than a Chinese breakfast.” In Pancho, the artist presents a typical Chinese “lazy Susan” that proffers both Chinese and Panamanian food, creating his own version of an authentic chino-panamanian meal. 

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