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Collaboration Residency

Laiwan Collaboration Residency

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This project resulted in an original limited edition of hand printed photolithographic prints produced in collaboration with Val Loewen at Malaspina’s studio on Granville Island.

  • File number: RESI1066

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Laiwan is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator with a wide-ranging practice based in poetics and philosophy. Born in Zimbabwe of Chinese parents, her family immigrated to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. Her art training began at the Emily Carr College of Art & Design (1983), and she returned to academia to receive an MFA from Simon Fraser University School for Contemporary Arts (1999). Recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 Emily Award from Emily Carr University, recent Canada Council and BC Arts Council Awards, and the 2008 Vancouver Queer Media Artist Award, Laiwan has served on numerous arts juries, exhibits regularly, curates projects in Canada, the US, and Zimbabwe, is published in anthologies and journals, and is a cultural activist.

Laiwan has been investigating colonialism, with aim toward a decoloniality, since the late 1980s. She also has been exploring embodiment since 2000, through performativity, audio, music, improvisation, and varieties of media, along with bodily and emotional ways of knowing, so as to unravel and engage presence.

Recent public commissions have also enabled her to focus on issues of urban development, touching on poetic and philosophic themes related to current questions of environment and the built cityscape of Vancouver.

Recent projects include a process-based investigation of street trees in the city, titled Maple Tree Spiral: the pedagogy of a tree in the city, at Artspeak Gallery located at the convergence of Maple Tree Square in Gastown, Vancouver, BC; a public art commission by Translink and the City of New Westminster, on the theme of phytoplankton and in collaboration with UBC’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences — titled Wander: Toward a Lightness of Being — installed at the 22nd Street Skytrain Station in New Westminster, BC; and a publication of  collected poems from Talon Books.

Her exhibition “Traces, Erasures, Resists” at the Belkin Gallery, UBC, guest curated by Amy Kazymerchyk, ran from January 7 to April 10, 2022. An accompanying publication will be released this year.

Laiwan participates in public discourse and enjoys contributing to discussions, panels, symposia, conferences and philosophy cafes. She happily gives lectures, artist’s talks and workshops at a variety of venues including art programs, universities, galleries, community centres, and living rooms.

Based on the unceded territories of the  Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, she founded the OR Gallery in 1983 in Vancouver, Canada, was Chair of the grunt gallery Board of Directors from 2010 to 2014, and served on the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Committee and with the City’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group in the Heritage and Culture Working Group, active in the transformation and revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Laiwan taught in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College (2001-2022), based at the satellite site in Washington State, USA, and she currently works as a planner for the Decolonization, Arts & Culture Department at the Vancouver Park Board with the City of Vancouver.