|Born||September 26, 1956
Vancouver, British Columbia
Kenneth Robert Lum (born 1956) is a Canadian artist born in Vancouver, Canada and residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is of Chinese heritage. Working in a number of media including painting, sculpture and photography, his art ranges from conceptual in orientation to representational in character and is generally concerned with issues of identity in relation to the categories of language, portraiture and spatial politics.
Lum's family established roots in Canada in 1912 through his grandfather, Lum Nin, who arrived from Xinhui, Guangdong in southern China to work as a labourer for the Canadian Pacific Railway company. Lum grew up in Strathcona, Vancouver neighborhood and later Kingsway (Vancouver) in East Vancouver. He attended Admiral Seymour Elementary School, Lord Selkirk Elementary School and later Gladstone Secondary School. His mother worked in a laundry mill and later in a garment factory while his itinerant father held various menial jobs. Lum's interest in art extends back to his youth, working as an illustrator for the Vancouver Public Library. He also worked for the Province of British Columbia's Ministry of the Environment as a scientific research assistant in the area of pestology. Simultaneously, he worked for the Ministry as an illustrator of flora and fauna. At Simon Fraser University, while a science student he enrolled in a contemporary art class led by Canadian artist Jeff Wall. Later he was a student of Ian Wallace. At Simon Fraser, he twice won a University Graduate Fellowship and was the inaugural winner of a Bice Caple Award scholarship. Lum is often cited as a member of the informally designated Vancouver School of artists, along with Wall, Wallace, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham and Roy Arden.
From 2000 to 2006, Lum was Head of the Graduate Program in Studio Art at the University of British Columbia, where he had taught since 1990, resigning in 2006. Lum joined the faculty of Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts in 2005 and worked at Bard until 2007. He taught at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1995 to 1997 while taking leave from UBC. Lum has also guest taught at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste or Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China, the l'Ecole d'Arts Plastique in Fort de France, Martinique, De Ateliers and the Rijksakademie, both of Amsterdam, the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine and the Banff Centre. In 2012, Lum joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design in Philadelphia. In 2013, he was appointed a Fellow of the Penn Institute of Urban Research.
While at the University of British Columbia, he was awarded the Killam Award for Outstanding Research in 1998 and garnered a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999. In 2003, Lum won both the Distinguished University Professor Award and the Dorothy Somerset Award for Outstanding Achievement in Creative and Performing Art. He was awarded a Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award in 2007. Lum was presented with an ArtMoves Special Award from the City of Torun, Poland in 2011. In 2013, Lum won a Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award in the field of Public Art.
He represented Canada at the Carnegie International 1991, Sydney Biennale in 1995, the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1997, the Shanghai Biennale in 2000 where he also helped edit the exhibition catalog, and at Documenta XI in 2002. Other exhibitions include Johannesburg Biennale 1997, Liverpool Biennial 2006, Tang Contemporary Art (Beijing), Istanbul Biennial 2007 and the 2008 Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju, South Korea) and Arrow Factory Beijing in 2010. A retrospective survey of Lum's work opened in February 2011 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Lum participated and gave a presentation at the Moscow Biennale 2011. In 2014, he exhibited at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery of the University of the Arts (Philadelphia). The Whitney Museum of American Art invited Lum to exhibit as part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
Art service activities
Lum has served on numerous public committees, including the City of Vancouver's Public Art Committee from 1994 to 1996. He was on the board of directors for the OR Gallery (Vancouver) 1992 - 1994, Arts Initiative Tokyo in Japan from 2001 to 2008, the Annie Wong Art Foundation (Hong Kong) from 1998 to 2002 and Centre A: Center for Asian Art (Vancouver) 2002 to 2007. Lum served on the Vancouver Art Gallery's Master Planning Committee from 2003 to 2004. In 2010, he sat on the Canada Council advisory committee dedicated to international engagement, served as juror for the City of Vancouver awards for exhibitions assistance as well as the Mayor's Art Awards (Vancouver). The same year, he was a presenter at the inaugural Yishu Art Awards held in Xi'an, China. In 2011, Lum served as juror for the Brink Award (Seattle) for emerging North West artists (British Columbia, Washington and Oregon). Since 2011, Lum serves on the board of the Canada Post Stamp Advisory Committee in Ottawa. From 2011 to 2012, Lum served as a board member of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto).
In 2003, Lum was a juror for the Prix de Rome Prize in the category of Art in Public Space for the Rijksakademie of Amsterdam, writing the Prix de Rome essay for the catalog accompanying the prize. Since 2007, he has served on the advisory board of Fillip, a critical art and cultural journal based in Vancouver. In 2008, Lum was a juror for the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards in Beijing to which he also wrote an essay on the winning artist Liu Wei and juror for the Bloomberg Young Contemporaries Exhibition in London, UK. Lum was a juror of the inaugural Lola Award for Contemporary Dance (Vancouver) in 2012.
In 1997, Lum was a keynote speaker for the Universities Art Association of Canada annual conference. Lum was keynote speaker of the third and final symposium of the 15th Biennale of Sydney 2006 . In 2010, he was keynote speaker for the annual CIMAM World Museums conference held at the Shanghai Art Museum in Shanghai, China.
From 1999 to 2001, Lum wrote an online journal for LondonArt, which chronicled both his passion for and misgivings about art. He co-founded Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art in 2000, along with Zheng Shengtian, and was Editor-in-Chief until 2004. With Zheng Shengtian, he co-organized the first large scale international curators' tour of China in 2000, which included curators for Documenta, Dia Art Foundation, Renaissance Society, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Gate Foundation and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
He has written numerous essays with themes ranging from the relationship of art to ethnology for the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, Netherlands, to the art of Chen Zhen for the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna Kunsthalle). Other essays include a historical analysis of Canadian Cultural Policy, and one concerning issues of multiple identities in respect to Théodore Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa, a paper which was presented to the Department of Caribbean Studies at Yale University. In 2008, Lum completed an art book project with French philosopher Hubert Damisch. Titled Ultimo Bagaglio, it was created by Three Star Books of Paris. In 2009, Lum contributed an essay regarding the problems confronting art education today for Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century) published by MIT Press. In 2012, coinciding with his move to Philadelphia, Lum began writing a quarterly art column for Canadian Art magazine. In 2013, he presented a paper for publication on contemporary art versus visual culture for M+ Museum of Visual Culture of the West Kowloon Cultural District of Hong Kong. He also presented a paper on the work of conceptual artist Ian Wilson at the Dia Art Foundation in New York.
Lum's activities include several curatorial projects. He was Director of the non-profit and then non-funded Or Gallery in Vancouver from 1983 to 1984. While Or Gallery Director, he curated PoCo Rococo, an exhibition held in Coquitlam Mall, a large suburban shopping centre. The exhibition included high school art students of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam with established city artists. In 2001, Lum was part of a team that founded a Humanities 101 program for low income people in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Lum was Project Manager for The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945 to 1994, a 2001 exhibition conceived and curated by Okwui Enwezor. Lum was curator of the 2004 NorthWest Annual for the Center of Contemporary Art in Seattle. In 2005, Lum co-curated Shanghai Modern 1919-1945, an exhibition about the city's art and culture during the republican era. He contributed an essay for the exhibition on the topic of Aesthetic Education in China. The same year, he also co-curated and contributed an essay for the 7th Sharjah Biennial in The Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, the largest international contemporary art biennale in the Middle East.
Lum has worked on several public art projects. In Vienna in 2000, Lum realized a 540 square metre work on the side of the centrally located Kunsthalle Wien. The work, There is no place like home, generated controversy as Lum saw the work as a response to the growth of the extreme right in Europe. Lum's Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White was installed upon the roof of the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2001. The work, which can be viewed as a comment on immigration and acculturation, features four model boats: a First Nations longboat, a cargo ship, the steam liner Komagata Maru, and George Vancouver's ship HMS Discovery. Each vessel has been placed at one of the building's compass points—north, south, east, and west—and painted in a colour intended to reflect the stereotyped racial vision presented in the hymn "Jesus Loves the Little Children".
Lum realized a second permanent public art commission outside St. Moritz, Switzerland in 2003 that dealt with the declining Romansch way of life in the remote Engadine region of Switzerland. The work titled Il Buolf Mus-chin Museum was a commission of the Walter A. Bechtler Foundation of Zurich and the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste.
In 2005, Lum completed A Tale of Two Children: A Work for Strathcona, a permanent work commissioned by the City of Vancouver's Public Works Yard. Another major public art commission by Lum, sponsored by he city of Vienna, Austria, and Wiener Linien (Vienna Public Transit), opened in downtown Vienna in January 2007. Titled Pi, the work is over 130 meter long and situated in a prominent pedestrian passageway by Vienna's Karlsplatz subway interchange. In 2011, Lum realized a permanent public art commission for the city of Utrecht, Netherlands. The work is located in the Nieuw Welgelegen district, a troubled but dynamic multi-ethnic area of Utrecht that is undergoing redevelopment. The work titled January 1, 1960 consists of a monumentally scaled topographical and political globe of the world as it looked at the start of the year 1960.
In early 2010, Lum completed Monument for East Vancouver a permanent outdoor artwork located in the traditionally working class side of Vancouver. In Vancouver, he also realized From shangri-la to shangri-la, a temporary installation based on huts that were erected on the Maplewood mudflats in North Vancouver during the second half of the twentieth century. Scale models of these structures appear to float over the surface of a corporate reflecting pond, creating a marked juxtaposition between their makeshift construction and the surrounding architecture, while evoking the utopian character of the mudflat community in the seemingly inexorable advance of urban development. In mid-2010, Lum won a public art commission for 570 Bay Street in Toronto, Ontario which was completed in 2013. Late in 2010, Lum was selected lead artist on the design team for the new Walterdale Bridge replacement scheduled for construction from 2013 to 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta. Lum completed in 2013 public art commissions premised on the tragic-historical figures of Homer Plessy and Dred Scott as a connecting narrative between the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St Louis, Missouri and Long Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2013, Lum won a public sculpture commissions for the Marine Gateway development in Vancouver and the Concord Park development in Toronto. In 2014, Lum won a competition to design a war memorial to the Canadian campaign in Italy during World War II. The memorial is to be sited in Nathan Phillips Square of Toronto City Hall.
Lum is currently represented by Marc Jancou Gallery, New York; Galerie Nelson-Freeman, Paris; Galerie Christian Nagel, Berlin; Misa Shin Gallery, Tokyo; L.A.Galerie, Frankfurt.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ken Lum.|
- O'Brian, Melanie. (2001). Ken Lum: Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White. [Brochure]. Vancouver, British Columbia: Vancouver Art Gallery.
- "East Van. No Rules." by Mike Klassen in City Focus, citycaucus.com