Queering the Air—A Quintessentially Queer Concert Series presented by SUM gallery

Feb 11 – Mar 11, 2022

SUM gallery is proud to present our first Queering the Air concert series: music that presents the many sides of queerness, from darkest introspection to the most radiant joy. We launch this series with renowned Two-Spirit baritone Jonathon Adams in a special concert at the Bill Reid Gallery; The McGregor-Verdejo Duo takes us back to SUM gallery with music inspired by isolation, love, and loss; Sarah Jo Kirsch introduces us to the Romantic non-binary muse, Mignon; and concluding our series, Sex Lives of Vegetables: Music of Leslie Uyeda, an evening of dazzling vocal music by the composer who gave us the world’s first lesbian opera. 

Concert schedule:

Feb 11, 7:30pm | In Darkness: Lute Songs of John Dowland Celebrated baritone Jonathon Adams and lutenist Lucas Harris give a special performance at the Bill Reid Gallery, co-presented with Müzewest Concerts. Hosted by Bill Reid Gallery, 639 Hornby St., Vancouver

Feb 18, 7:30pm | McGregor-Verdejo Duo The Vancouver flute & guitar duo present a program of queer longing and isolation with music by Matthew-John Knights, Rodney Sharman, Hiroki Tsurumoto, and Gabriella Yorke. Hosted by SUM gallery, #425 – 628 Keefer St., Vancouver

Feb 25, 7:30pm | Mignon Mignon, a non-binary icon of German Romanticism, is brought to life through the music of Zelter, Schubert, Schumann, and Wolf, performed by soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch and pianist Tina Chang. Hosted by SUM gallery, #425 – 628 Keefer St., Vancouver

Mar 11, 7:30pm | Sex Lives of Vegetables: Music of Leslie Uyeda The scandalous, gorgeous, and profound vocal music of Leslie Uyeda, featuring soprano Heather Pawsey, clarinetist AK Coope, and pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa.Hosted by SUM gallery, #425 – 628 Keefer St., Vancouver

These concerts are being presented in adherence to current provincial guidelines regarding health and safety. In-person attendance will be limited and socially distanced. Mask wearing and presentation of vaccine passports will be mandatory.

Promotional artwork: When Trees Are Alone by Holly Steele

Sovereignty—Duane Isaac

Feb 17 – May 14, 2022

Sovereignty is Mi’gmaq photographer and mask-maker Duane Isaac’s first solo exhibition in Vancouver. The portrait series documents a body in nature outfitted with a fantastical mask—one side overgrown with fledgling greenery while the other half conjures a ghost of the human face hidden beneath—who succumbs to increasingly foreboding flames, mask first. Motivated by the health and survival of Indigenous bodies and Indigenous Lands, Isaac casts his model as a vessel of sovereignty under threat; “Sovereignty explores the questions of autonomy and health of both body and Land. The health of the Land will reflect the health of the body and the health of the body will reflect the health of the Land. One cannot survive without the other.” The figure’s mask embodies this dualism, representing Indigenous identity as equal to and inseparable from the Land.

Duane Isaac is a First Nation Mi’gmaq from Listuguj, QC. He is a contemporary artist who uses the photography medium in combination with his mask making. His work has been featured in multiple online publications, most recently Canadian Art Magazine. He currently resides in Listuguj, QC.

Curated by SUM gallery founding artistic director emeritus SD Holman, this exhibition is part of the 2022 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program.

Opening reception details TBC pending COVID-19 regulations. Visits to the gallery are currently by appointment only. Check back for updates.

Read the press release for Sovereignty.

Artist Residency—Dion Smith-Dokkie

Jan 4 – Jan 31

SUM gallery activates the New Year with a new artist residency program featuring Vancouver-based West Moberly First Nations artist Dion Smith-Dokkie. Throughout the month of January, Dion will create new multimedia work and engage the community through free, artist-led drawing workshops and an open house. In groups of five, workshop participants will create collaborative charcoal drawings, with a focus on intuitive mark-making and an experimental approach to space and form. Register here to attend a workshop. Space is limited and proof of vaccination is required.

Workshop dates:

Dion Smith-Dokkie (he, they) is a painter and visual artist currently living in Vancouver on the unceded ancestral homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ. He is a recent graduate of the UBC MFA in Visual Arts program. Dion also holds degrees from the University of Victoria and Concordia University. His practice hones in on colour and light, skin, screens, clouds and skies, and interfaces of all sorts through the lens of painting, drawing, and video. He grew up in the Peace River region of British Columbia and Alberta and is a member of West Moberly First Nations.

During the residency, Dion will be working on a series of large charcoal and pastel drawings that respond to, nuance and extend their library of video works. They’ll also be working closely with Derek Jarman’s 1976 film, 𝘚𝘦𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘦. Stay tuned to our social media @queerarts and @QAFVancouver for updates on their time at SUM.

Vivek Shraya – Trans artist challenges the use of trauma narratives in an era of virtue signalling

Galleries West | April 14, 2021

Trauma Clown, by Vivek Shraya, on view as part of the Capture Photography Festival at Vancouver’s SUM Gallery until July 1, is a soft but potent critique of audiences and viewing institutions in an era of virtue signalling. 

The Trauma Clown is the effect of the very contemporary thirst for stories of suffering. In a series of 10 portrait-like photographs, Shraya’s performer steps progressively deeper into the role of the clown, to greater and greater praise and public affection. This series questions the emphasis on trauma narratives in queer artistic expression. What is the danger of trading stories of trauma and redemption as cultural currency?

Shraya plays the character of the emerging artist, steadily revealing more of herself until she becomes the caricature of her suffering. She moves from the Lovesick Clown, a hoody-wearing, guitar-strumming singer-songwriter to unveil the clown with increasing intensity. This steady transformation plays across her body and weaves a deft relationship between the audience’s desire for her to expose more of herself and the increasing commodification of her performance.

In the sixth photograph, she is finally the Trauma Clown: on her knees among piles of flowers, her clown makeup streaked by sweat and tears, arms open in full availability to the unseen crowd. From this triumphalism, she begins to fade from view. Gallery Clown sets her inside the window of an iPhone, while Media Clown is an ‘image of her image’ in a magazine. Ultimately, in Your Clown, she is a framed photo on your wall, among the artful tableau of your things. 

Prepare to be implicated. Shraya takes aim at mainstream audiences, art institutions and popular narratives. In an interview with Shraya and curator SD Holman on the show’s opening weekend, Holman pointed to the effect of the trauma narrative in the reality television show RuPaul’s Drag Race – the ways in which sad backstories propel participants to victory. Shraya’s point is that the demand for stories of queer oppression have become the bread and butter of the queer artist in the mainstream media.

If, as a viewer, you come to this show as a member of the mainstream (white, straight, cis to be sure), however educated you may be, the temptation might be to connect these photographs to drag. This would be an easy misconception since the photographs are not accompanied by any text. It’s left to the audience to get things going, so one might find oneself mentally thumbing the pages of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble to make connections between what is taught about drag and the trans body we see.

I was grateful that Shraya, in her talk, cautions her audience not to conflate transness with drag. As I see it, the connection to drag in Trauma Clown, if any, is more carefully embedded in the performance imagery, where hyperbolized acts form a critique of the institutions from which they are born.

Shraya’s exhibition is an opportunity for audiences to consider their role in the capitalist viewing machine, and the ways that looking can make objects of the real bodies we see. ■  

Vivek Shraya: Trauma Clown at the SUM Gallery in Vancouver from April 1 to July 1, 2021. 

Click here to view the original article in full.

Five Projects to See at Vancouver’s Capture Photography Festival

Canadian Art | March 30, 2021


Public installation, Canada Line, April 2 to September 30

Each image from Zinnia Naqvi’s Yours to Discover series is a dense tapestry of meaning. Naqvi stages the immigrant dream—a washed-out, middle-class suburban bliss—and unravels it at once, illuminating the threads between nostalgia and colonization. A self-aware critic, Naqvi has a humour that gets punchier the more it is taken seriously: manicured nails and lawns, stacks of heavy-hitting titles on race, toy cop cars and Monopoly houses. Installed at the Broadway–City Hall Skytrain station, a literal cog in the facilitation of movement and economy, Yours to Discover is cheeky yet incisive, inviting us to think critically about our attachment to place. —Coco Zhou, editorial resident


Centre A, continues to May 29

“There are more important things than living.” So said Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick in April 2020, opining for an end to pandemic lockdown. Will Kwan détournes this phrase in Death Cult #1 (There are more important things than living) (2021), a black granite slab etched with Patrick’s visage and quote. In “Exclusion Acts” Kwan showcases this and other sharp reflections on pandemic, capitalism and white supremacy. Kwan is a thinker and maker who has been critiquing colonialism, racism and commercialism for 20 years; to witness him going to work again, subverting these phenomena in link to a grievous and heightened moment, feels vital. —Leah Sandals, content editor


Centre A, continues to May 29

“There are more important things than living.” So said Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick in April 2020, opining for an end to pandemic lockdown. Will Kwan détournes this phrase in Death Cult #1 (There are more important things than living) (2021), a black granite slab etched with Patrick’s visage and quote. In “Exclusion Acts” Kwan showcases this and other sharp reflections on pandemic, capitalism and white supremacy. Kwan is a thinker and maker who has been critiquing colonialism, racism and commercialism for 20 years; to witness him going to work again, subverting these phenomena in link to a grievous and heightened moment, feels vital. —Leah Sandals, content editor


SUM Gallery, April 1 to July 1
Artist’s talk, April 3, via Zoom

Multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya merges tragedy and humour seamlessly into her playful yet compelling photo exhibition “Trauma Clown.” The artist poses as said “trauma clown,” accentuating the contentious desire by audiences to consume her pain as her success grows. Shraya performs her trauma in order to keep up with the insatiable demand for her anguish, which presents a dynamic and powerful message in her solo exhibition. —Adrienne Huard, editor-at-large


Art Gallery at Evergreen, February 13 to April 25

The clarity of Erika DeFreitas’s gestures and objects in the photo frame, ever in acts of searching, is a slow-burn kind of magic. These sharp edges of fragments—whether of performance, writing, still-lifes or research processes—can appear like collages or mise-en-scènes of unanswered questions. Sometimes the search is for who and what is lost from canonical art histories, or about relations marked by hands and bodies. In “close magic” many of the works drawn from the past five years also feature DeFreitas’s mother and show the two together, giving spatial form to quietly monumental intimacies. —Joy Xiang, assistant editor

Click here to view the original article in full.

Artist and author Vivek Shraya to talk with Jonny Appleseed author and launch solo art show in Vancouver

Georgia Straight | March 30, 2021

Multidisciplinary Canadian artist, author, and University of Calgary professor Vivek Shraya has quite the week lined up for Vancouver audiences.

The writer, visual artist, performer, and musician will participate in a literary discussion tonight before launching a solo visual art show (her first in Vancouver) later this week.

Shraya is the author of The Subtweet: A Novel and I’m Afraid of Men, and a six-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Tonight, she’ll be speaking with author Joshua Whitehead, whose novel Jonny Appleseed won the 2021 Canada Reads annual debate about what is the one book that all Canadians need to read.

Whitehead is a two-spirit Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation and a Ph.D. candidate, lecturer, and Killam scholar at the University of Calgary. Jonny Appleseed follows a two-spirit Indigiqueer man who faces his past after heading home for his stepfather’s funeral.

The novel is also the pick for SFU Library’s One Book One SFU.

At 7 p.m. tonight (March 30), Whitehead will discuss the book with Shraya at a free online SFU event. More information and registration is available at the event webpage.

After that, Shraya’s photo series Trauma Clown will open on Thursday (April 1) at SUM Gallery (425–268 Keefer Street), and continues until July 1.

With elements of suffering and satire, this solo visual art show (which is part of the 2021 Capture Photography Festival) will explore issues of entertainment, spectacle, and trauma through the life of a trans woman of colour experiencing success at the price of performing pain for audiences.

More information is available at the gallery website, which also has online booking available for visits.

Demand for the opening reception on April 1 was so great that after attendance for that event sold out, a second reception has been scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday (April 2)

Shraya will participate in an online talk about the exhibition at 3 p.m. on Saturday (April 3). To RSVP for the talk, visit the event webpage.

You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook. You can also follow the Straight’s LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.

Click here to view the original article in full.

Trauma Clown – a photo series by Vivek Shraya

Trauma Clown – a visual art exhibition by Vivek Shraya

April 1 – July 1 | 2021

Oppression and commodification meet in visual artist, author and musician Vivek Shraya’s photo exhibition, Trauma Clown. In a cultural climate where laughter and pain go hand in hand, Vivek Shraya shuffles through a deck of trauma cards, exploring what type of sad clown we embody when we externalize our suffering. Her work invites viewers to question the mediums of modern spectacle and the depths of our appetite.

This exhibition is part of the 2021 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program.

To visit the exhibition for the duration of its run, please visit our booking site. Our SUM gallery regular open hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 6pm. Advance appointments are required to view this exhibition.

*Opening Reception | Thu Apr 1st | 5 – 8 pm

Due to high demand: *Opening Reception Part II | Fri Apr 2nd | 5 – 8 pm

Artist Talk, co-presented by ReIssue.pub | Sat Apr 3rd | 3 pm

*By private appointment only.

Cultivate presents Auntie’s 2Spirit Social, a Drop-In Art Circle for Indigiqueers

Cultivate presents Auntie’s 2Spirit Social, a Drop-In Art Circle for Indigiqueers

Alternating Wednesdays 4-5pm

Since we can’t gather in person, gather around Shane’s virtual table for sharing art, stories, knowledge and support. Just like at Auntie’s house, the best adventures come from being together. Bring your latest project, a doodle, beadwork, or anything else to work on while we chat. Maybe Auntie will share a story or teach you to make some tea. You’re invited to talk about your art making process, lead a short skills share, and just enjoy being together. 

This event is for individuals who identify as 2Spirit and/or Indigiqueer only.

Community Agreements

Confidence: What’s Said Here Stays Here.

Sharing: What’s Learned Here Leaves Here.

Respect: Everyone gets an opportunity to speak without judgement and without disruption.

Learning: Listen More Than You Speak, and speak with care.


Those individuals struggling to uphold the community agreements will be asked to leave the session and will be invited to a private discussion.

Registration process

Send a registration request to shane@queerartsfestival.com and introduce yourself. Zoom link will be emailed shortly before the session. Please do not share the link.