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Artist Category: Adult 19+


Karen Tsui (she/they) is a second-generation Chinese immigrant-settler situated on unceded Coast Salish territory, including the lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ (Tsawwassen), and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) Indigenous peoples. Primarily using acrylic paints, Karen employs portraiture as a tool of social change by which ‘othered’ bodies are represented and their very acts of existing amplified. Her paintings examine the interconnections between marginalization and resilience and are informed by her experiences as a racialized person of colour living, working and creating on stolen land.

Artist Statement

Dad () and A Ma ()

In the Fall of 2020, I was freshly graduated from university with a social justice degree, experiencing burnout from a summer of anti-racist activism work and social distancing – all of which informed the creation of these portraits. Upon reflecting on how I could best contribute to activism work at that point in time, these paintings were conceived from my desire to contribute to social transformation through artistic creativity. Drawing from the notion that ‘existence is resistance,’ I foreground the very existence of my Chinese immigrant-settler family members in the portraits as a means of documentation, intergenerational connection and anti-racist self-advocacy. Featuring my father (爹哋) and paternal grandmother (阿嬤), these portraits are painted in a realistic style that disrupts the historical and ongoing misrepresentation and ‘misportrayal’ of the Asian diaspora in mainstream media. Meaning can also be made from the fact that the depicted individuals are settlers and that their existence are complexly tied to the realities of settler colonialism. Through each painting, I resist silencing by putting forth an accurate portrayal of a racialized person of colour and their survival as immigrant settlers on stolen land.

Instagram: @tsui.png

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