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Catch-Up with Artist in Residence – Lam Wong

Five months have passed since CHAJI / 茶寂, the first exhibition in Lam Wong’s year-long Artist in Residency at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden began, and with the current show, Investigation of Things 格物, in its final few weeks, we sat down with Wong to contemplate the past, savour the present, and unfold some of his future projects.

CHAJI was an exhibition that celebrated tea (cha 茶), as a gathering where people could come together to appreciate the beauty in the simple things of life.

A lot of the themes in my art focus on perception, suffering, and the impermanence of time. This appreciation of beauty and time, and what I hope people take away from it, is that people can contemplate how valuable life is and after viewing my work, they go away, and find a way to reflect on life, and the short time we have in this world. Mostly I want people to find meaning in their own lives.”

CHAJI was an opportunity to celebrate artists and individuals who have inspired Wong’s work throughout his career, and the collaboration between Wong and the four artists showcased in the exhibition: Don Wong, Arthur Cheng, Bryan Mulvihill, and Chick Rice; emphasized the importance of collaboration between artists.

I love to collaborate, and a lot of the time I work with people who are more senior artists than myself, artists who inspire me, and whom I deeply respect.”

The importance of collaboration is certainly a key factor in the current exhibition, Investigation of Things, which Wong describes as a space to encourage emerging Canadian and Asian young artists.

It’s a very difficult climate for new artists and the Emerging Artists Exchange hopes to encourage the collaboration and sharing of ideas among rising artists, to provide support and assistance as they enter the profession.”

This collaborative project presented in conjunction with the Shang Foundation of Art, certainly achieves this goal of providing a platform for new and emerging artists to showcase their work to an international audience, to come together, share ideas, and learn from one another. Regardless of cultural background or ancestry, art is the perfect canvas to portray the universal language of emotions.

As we step into the future and look toward Wong’s upcoming exhibit Luminous Garden, themes of tea, and harmony with nature, re-emerge.

“The idea of Luminous Garden is to look at the Garden space as a sanctuary for spiritual growth and contemplations.”

In collaboration with Glenn Lewis, a local photographer and ceramist, Luminous Garden aims to explore themes of light in nature, and the idea of spirituality within the nature and garden space.

Over our final sips of tea, Wong concludes our discussion by advising new artists to have faith in the tough and difficult path of art.

“Keep in mind we only live one life and, in this life, you need to do what you’re passionate about doing. If you like art, keep making art, don’t stop, just do it. As art is the closest thing to freedom, by making art and the freedom it conveys, you should keep that alive. It is not easy but it is a choice.”

Be sure to join us for the last few weeks of Investigation of Things, closing on March 21st, and save the date for the opening of Wong’s new exhibition, Luminous Garden on April 17th.

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