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Karen Tam

June 28, 2017

Karen Tam is an artist whose research focuses on the construction and imagination of cultures through installations in which she recreates the spaces of Chinese restaurants, karaoke lounges, opium dens, curio shops and other sites of cultural encounters. Since 2000, she has exhibited her work and participated in residencies in North America, Europe, and China. She was a finalist for the Prix en art actuel from the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec in 2016 and long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2016 and 2010. Tam holds a MFA in Sculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths (University of London). She is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau. She has upcoming shows at Expression, Centre d’expression de Saint-Hyacinthe (QC) and Musée régional de Rimouski (QC). Her exhibition With wings like clouds hung from the sky / 大 鵬 就 振 翼 is currently on view at The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until September 4.

1. Chinese Art Deco

I've been interested in the influence of China on the arts and crafts in Europe and the Americas, and vice-versa, especially during the 1920s and 1930s through Art Deco. It's fascinating how this style drew inspiration from Chinese and Japanese art, but also how it was interpreted or re-interpreted in China itself, as seen in the architecture of cities like Shanghai and in fashion, design, decor, and art.

2. Watching CCTV documentaries with my dad

Since my dad discovered the wonders of AppleTV and YouTube, he's been an avid viewer of CCTV documentaries and my R&D person. He'll email me the links to any and all the shows he thinks would be of interest. We'll watch them together and get ideas for projects from the historical shows and programmes on antiques, travel, Silk Road, arts and crafts, technology, etc.

3. Inspector Montalbano

I really enjoy reading the books as well as watching and re-watching the television series for the combination of food, crime, beautiful and idyllic scenery (set in Sicily), and humour.

4. Swimming

I don't lead a very active lifestyle, but I do enjoy going for a swim. Living in Montreal with free access to pools, I try to go two or three times a week. My current go-to is the salt-water pool at CEGEP Vieux-Montreal.

5. Women composers

Morfydd Owen

This past year, I decided to listen to more classical and contemporary music. I felt that my musical knowledge needed to expand and I realized that I wasn't familiar with the works of many women composers. In my undergraduate music history courses, we covered Hildegard de von Bingen, Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Nadia and Lili Boulanger, but not of others who most probably were excluded from the “canon” because of their gender. So far, I've discovered the gorgeous works of Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677), who was one of only a few women in the 17th Century to publish their own compositions, Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729), Morfydd Owen (1891-1918), Amy Beach (1867-1844), Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), Alma Mahler (1879-1964), Jean Coulthard (1908-2000), Anna Thorvaldsdóttir (1977-), Elena Langer (1974-), and Yan Jinxuan (1924-), who composed the music for The White Haired Girl opera and ballet, which is regarded as one of the classics of revolutionary China.



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