Upcoming & current activities

Made in Britain
January 17-February 21, 2015
Vernissage: January 17, 3-5pm
Galerie Hugues Charbonneau (Montréal, QC)

Terra dos Chinês Curio Shop
Summer 2015
Artspace Peterborough (Peterborough, QC)

Karen Tam: Collection of the China Institute of the University of Frankfurt at the Weltkulturen Museum
June 2013-ongoing
Weltkulturen Museum's OPEN LAB project
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
"The Chinese-Canadian artist and Deutsche Börse artist in residence at the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Karen Tam, is currently investigating the where-abouts of a collection once belonging to the China Institute of the University of Frankfurt. Parts of this collection were apparently given to the Weltkulturen Museum after they were damaged during World War II and are now on permanent loan at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, just next door on the Museum Embankment in Frankfurt. Please follow the project with the Bookmark button in OPEN LAB to find out more about the artist, stay up-to-date on the latest developments in her investigation and find additional information on the Chinese collection objects once belonging to the Weltkulturen Museum."



Awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Project Grant
Interviewed by Yan Liang for Radio Canada International, March 20


Past activities

Écho 2: L'histoire à contre-courant / Against the Grain of History
June 7-July 5, 2014
Vernissage: June 7, 3-5pm
Galerie Hugues Charbonneau (Montréal, QC)

Convoluted Beauty: In the Company of Emily Carr
June 27-September 21, 2014
Vernissage: June 27, 8-10pm
Curated by Lisa Baldissera
Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, SK)

In Emily Carr’s journals, she mentions Lee Nam, a Chinese immigrant to British Columbia, who was a painter and a friend of hers. He had put on small exhibitions in Victoria and Carr herself tried to get him more recognition. As an early immigrant to Canada, in a place and landscape that was unfamiliar and strange, how did he respond to being, in a sense, in exile and away from home? My installation for the Mendel will re-imagine what Lee Nam’s studio in 1930s Victoria might have looked and contained. This project will include works done in collaboration and in conversation with Montréal-based painter, Lui Luk Chun, a senior artist in his seventies, reflecting the traditional ideals and expectations of what a Chinese painter’s studio should include and the type of work done. This would also express how Lui himself an immigrant and traditional Chinese landscape painter, has interpreted the Canadian landscape and his experiences in this country.

The Intuitionists
July 11-August 24, 2014
Vernissage: July 10, 6-8pm
Curated: Heather Hart, Steffani Jemison, and Jina Valentine
The Drawing Center (New York)

Empreintes/Impressions Residency
February 3-March 15, 2014
Artist in residence with the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Conseil des arts de Montréal

I will be exploring the MMFA’s collection of Chinese art and artefacts, and delving into their archives to learn more about the history of the collection and those of other Montréalers in the early 20th century as part of a long-term investigation on the marked attention devoted to China and its arts from the 1920s onwards in Québec. What were the Montréal and MMFA connections to the Jesuit T’ou-Se-We orphanage and its art workshops in Shanghai in the first half of the 20th century? You can follow my sleuthing and residency activities on my Pumpkin Sauce blog

Deutsche Börse Residency
June 17 juin-August 11, 2013
Artist in residence with the Frankfurter Kunstverein (Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
Open studio and artist talk - August 6, 6pm

May 16-June 27, 2013
Curated by Stefan Hancherow and Jennifer Simaitis
QueenSpecific Gallery, Toronto

Couriers of Taste: History, cultures, collecting and consumerism
April 1 - October 31, 2013
Curated by Day + Gluckman
Danson House, Bexleyheath Heritage Trust, 'National Partner' of the National Trust, UK
Gayle Chong Kwan, Stephanie Douet, Ed Pien, Meekyoung Shin, Susan Stockwell, Karen Tam, Laura White, WESSIELING and seeds collected from Ai Weiwei’s 100,000,000 ‘Sunflower Seeds’
Couriers of Taste explores the relationship between international trade, global consumerism and cross-cultural influences. Through a selection of drawings, cyanotypes, installation and sculptures the exhibition also reflects on Danson House’s past as a place built for leisure and decadence, seeped in and tainted by the 18th century trade and trafficking of peoples and culture. (Sinopticon website)

Everyone Was Mushu Fighting! is a pink vinyl cut-out of dragons chasing after a plate of mushu pork, installed on the glass staircase at the National Glass Centre (Sunderland, UK) more

Breathe Chongqing 2009 residency at 501 Artspace, co-organized by Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester (Chongqing, China) (view)


Books and publications

Chapter in The Changing Landscape of China's Consumerism (2014) ed. Alison Hulme.
Published by Chandos Publishing

The Changing Landscape of China's Consumerism looks at the growth of consumerism in China from both a socio-economic and a political/cultural angle. It examines changing trends in consumption in China as well as the impact of these trends on society, and the politics and culture surrounding them. It examines the ways in which, despite needing to "unlock" the spending power of the rural provinces, the Chinese authorities are also keen to maintain certain attitudes towards the Communist Party and socialism "with Chinese Characteristics."

Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada (2010) by Lily Cho.
Published by the University of Toronto Press (link)


Sweet & Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants by John Jung
Published by Yin & Yang Press(buy)

"Sweet and Sour examines the history of Chinese family restaurants in the U. S. and Canada. The goal of Sweet and Sour is to understand how the small Chinese family restaurants functioned. Narratives provided by 10 Chinese who grew up in their family restaurants in all parts of the North America provide valuable insights on the role that this ethnic business had on their lives. Is there any future for this type of immigrant enterprise in the modern world of franchised and corporate owned eateries or will it soon, like the Chinese laundry, be a relic of history."

Exhibition catalog of Karen Tam, curated by Mary Jane Jacob, at CUE Arts Foundation (New York, NY) available from CUE Art Foundation.

Chinese Firecrackers CD. Music of the 19th and early 20th century as interpreted by David Hancock, Robert Tam, Karen Tam, and Ying Kwok. Limited edition of 50.

Listen to excerpts. Available here and Chinese Arts Centre.

Gold Mountain Restaurant Montagne d'Or published by MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) with contributions from Françoise Bélu, Marcel Blouin, Sylvie Lachance, Day's Lee

Available from MAI, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal bookstore, Musée de beaux-arts de Montréal bookstore.

© karen tam 2005-2015. All rights reserve