Odera Igbokwe: New Yams Festival

Thu Jun 22 – Fri Jul 28
Exhibition open hours: Tue-Sat, 12 to 6pm

SUM gallery presents a solo exhibition by Odera Igbokwe, an illustrator and painter who celebrates the magic of the African Diaspora and QTBIPOC. New Yams Festival is a direct reflection, response, and Queer reclamation of the New Yam Festival of the Igbo people. Traditionally, it is a celebration of abundance, ancestral veneration, and protection. In referencing The New Yam Festival, Odera seeks to create a visual lineage between Queer Afrofuturism and ancestral rituals.

About Odera Igbokwe

Odera Igbokwe (they/them & he/him) is an illustrator and painter located on the unceded and traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Odera loves to explore storytelling through Afro-diasporic mythologies, Black resilience and magical girl transformation sequences. Their work explores the magic of the Black imagination, and responds to the fractures that occur via diaspora and displacement. Ultimately their paintings celebrate joy, mundanity, and fantasy coexisting alongside pain and healing. As a freelance illustrator, Odera works with clients and galleries to create work that is deeply personal, soulful and intersectional.

SD Holman’s Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving

Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving

A new photo-based exhibition by SD Holman
The exhibition runs Apr 1 – Jun 2, 2023
SUM gallery open to the public Tue-Sat, 12 to 6pm
Opening reception (artist in attendance): Apr 1, 5 to 7pm
Live musical performances from Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa: Apr 19 at 12pm, May 13 at 5pm, May 19 at 5pm, June 2 at 5pm

Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving is a new photo-based multidisciplinary meditation on mourning & memory by artist SD Holman, on view at SUM gallery April 1 to June 2. Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving (pilgrimage variations) derives from Holman’s walk across Canada following the death of their wife, Catherine White Holman. This exhibit engages artist and writer Persimmon Blackbridge, who works with words from Holman’s travel journal; and using Bach’s Goldberg Variations as an organizing principle, Holman collaborates with pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, who performs at the opening and periodically during the exhibition run.

I needed to walk; walk out my door & keep walking. I don’t like walking. You died in a plane crash. I couldn’t make sense of it. I walked for 3 months / 2700 km. I took a little G11 (not my pro camera or 4×5). I made 8,000 images—99 videos—30,000 words. These are some of them.

There is no arc to this story. I did not come out of it healed.

We all grieve. I later learned that the grieving often go on walking pilgrimages. Walk. Breathe. Think. Don’t think. Circle. Repeat. Step. By step. Try to change the outcome as you move over unfamiliar terrain. Different and the same. No epic Canadian landscapes here, instead tiny human steps cycling endlessly in an intimate vista.

SD Holman

Variations are like a voyage. But … that voyage does not lead through the infinitude of the exterior world … The voyage of variations leads into the other infinitude, into the infinite diversity of the interior world hidden in all things … We know we cannot embrace the universe with its suns and stars. Much more unbearable is to be condemned to lack that other infinitude, that infinitude near at hand, within reach… we all lose in whatever we do, because if it is perfection we are after, we must go to the heart of the matter, and we can never quite reach it… there is nothing more unbearable than lacking the being we loved, those…measures and the interior world of their infinitude of possibilities. —

Milan Kundera

About SD Holman sdholman.com

SD Holman is an award-winning artist and curator born in Hollywood, California. Described as “visionary” by curator/scholar Jonathan Katz, Holman is a graduate of ECUAD Vancouver Canada, laureate of the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, and Founding Artistic Director Emeritus of the multidisciplinary QAF + SUM gallery. Defining as a participant observer employing subjective conceptual documentary practice, Holman’s approach to photography is conflicted and perverse. Holman’s work deals in paradox: the cognitive dissonance between estrangement and recognition, aversion and attraction, harshness and beauty, bravura and restraint, outrageousness and subtlety, expressionism and classicism. Holman embraces Indeterminacy to open artistic practice to the random and radically break from tradition, convention, and habit.

Holman’s work has exhibited internationally including at Wellesley College, Amherst College, CLGA ArQuives (Toronto), the Advocate Gallery (Los Angeles), the Soady-Campbell Gallery (New York), the San Francisco Public Library, On Main Gallery, The Helen Pitt International Gallery, Charles H. Scott, Exposure, Gallery Gachet, the Roundhouse, Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Artropolis, and Fotobase Galleries (Vancouver). Holman’s portrait project BUTCH: Not like the other girls toured North America and is in its second print edition, published by Caitlin Press, Dagger Editions. Studio Q, Holman’s notorious DTES Art Salon in Vancouver’s Chinatown, was featured in Secrets of the City (1st edition).

About Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa iwaasa.com

Hailed in the press as a “keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse” (Georgia Straight) whose “emotional intensity” transforms music “from notes on a page to a stunning work of art” (Victoria Times Colonist), RACHEL KIYO IWAASA is recognized among Canada’s foremost contemporary music pianists. Rachel’s reputation for fearless performative risk has drawn many of Canada’s most notable composers to write for her, including Hildegard Westerkamp, Rodney Sharman, Jocelyn Morlock, Nicole Lizée, Farshid Samandari, Emily Doolittle, Jeffrey Ryan and Jordan Nobles. One half of the acclaimed contemporary flute/piano duo Tiresias with Mark Takeshi McGregor, Rachel has also performed with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Judith Forst, the Bozzini Quartet, Heather Pawsey, Gabriel Kahane, Caroline Shaw, and Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire. Rachel’s debut CD, Cosmophony, has been praised as “brilliant” and “unforgettable” (Vancouver Sun) and for “the passion, intensity and the nuanced playing she’s acclaimed for… she manages to instill a sense of dynamic tension and pull to every note” (The Province).

Read the press release for Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving.

asian heritage month at morrow

ahmm (asian heritage month at morrow)
May 6 – 29, 2023 at Morrow, 910 Richards St, Vancouver

SUM gallery is proud to co-produce ahmm events Volume Vulva Verve and Bowl of Jasmine in partnership with Dumb Instrument Dance.

Volume Vulva Verve (May 10-14) features two vibrant solo works by accomplished creators/performers: Taiko artist Kage and dance artist Ziyian Kwan. Through sound composition, live vocals and movement, Kage’s Itadakimasu explores how food intersects with ancestral teachings and community, and how this is being threatened by colonial and capitalist forces. Ziyian’s The Odd Volume similarly emerges in resistance to forces that assimilate, displace, and racialize, articulating through movement and storytelling, her immigrant experience as a first generation Chinese-Filipina. Volume Vulva Verve powerfully voices the importance of preserving cultural knowledge and inspiring healing within ourselves and our communities.

Bowl of Jasmine (May 26-28) is a program of 2 works choreographed by Juolin Lee and Sujit Vaidya. The artists come from distinctly different backgrounds, yet they are unified by a mutual fascination with exploring the tension between imagination and reality. This program inquires into the physicality of their fantasy worlds, exploring how cultural influences in the form of scent and taste permeate through their moving bodies.

Artistic Statement, Ziyian Kwan: ahmm was born of my desire to connect with kith and kin – at Dumb Instrument Dance’s cultural space Morrow, during Asian Heritage Month. My hope is that this first iteration of a festival, which came about as an impromptu incentive, will develop and evolve into future adventures. But in the here and now, it’s so exciting to dream something into being with an extraordinary group of artists and partners. Expect intimate sharings of poetry, movement, music, film, visual art and interactive offerings of rest and nourishment, made real by co-operative imagining and camaradarie. Through events that are at once resistance and celebration, ahmm is the embrace of Asian Canadian artists who from a space of community, sing their work to shore.

Folklore, Feminism, and Sea-Maidens: A Mythic Evening with Nalo Hopkinson in Conversation w/ Valérie d. Walker

On Thursday, May 25 at 6:30pm, join Massy Arts Society, SUM gallery, SFU Library, SFU Public Square & Massy Books at The Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre for a special evening with one of the world’s preeminent writers of science fiction and fantasy:

Folklore, Feminism, and Sea-Maidens: A Mythic Evening with Nalo Hopkinson in Conversation w/ Valérie d. Walker

We welcome you to enjoy this wide-ranging conversation between Nalo Hopkinson & Valérie d. Walker, as these two multidimensional artists discuss the realms of myth, story, wonder, beauty and rigour that inspire their creativity across genres, forms and worlds.

Registration is free/by donation, open to all and required for entrance.

Several Nalo Hopkinson titles will be on sale during the event.

Venue & Accessibility

The event will be hosted at The Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, on the Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University— 149 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H4.

Please refrain from wearing scents or heavy perfumes.

SFU COVID-19 protocols in place: Masks keep our community safe and are mandatory (N95 masks are recommended as they offer the best protection). We ask if you are showing symptoms, that you please stay home.

About The Author

Nalo Hopkinson is a Jamaican-born author living in Canada. Her novels and short fiction have received the World Fantasy Award, the Sturgeon Award, the Sunburst Award for Canadian literature of the fantastic, and the Nebula Award, among others. In 2021, Science Fiction Writers of America gave her the Damon Knight Memorial “Grand Master’ Award for her contributions to the genre and the community. She is the first woman of African descent and the youngest person to date to receive this award. Hopkinson is currently a professor in the School of Creative Writing of the University of British Columbia.

In Conversation with SUM gallery board member:

Valérie d. Walker is a Renaissance Artist, alchemyst, transmedia maker, educator, curator, Indigo Griot, Radio-Wave creatrix & BIPOC Femme Afro-Futuristic transmitter. She holds 5th level Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) & Chado (tea-ceremony) degrees with Urasenke-Kyoto & lifetimes of Indigo knowledge, she landed on Gaia in Honolulu & has traveled the planet in space and time. Valérie holds a degree in EECS from UC-Berkeley and her MFA from NSCAD University.

Valérie’s artwork explores enviro-positive natural dyeing & printing, fibre-based responsive installations, tactile virtual spaces, solar-powered circuits, story-telling, epigenetic memories, environmentally healing studio processes, craft-based techniques, digitalia & imagining, programming, sensoriality, and Afro-Futurism.

When I Stop Saying Your Name – Five Songs of Grief and Grieving

SUM gallery + Little Chamber Music present:
When I Stop Saying Your Name – Five Songs of Grief and Grieving

World premiere of new works by Leslie Uyeda
Featuring Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano
Poetry reading by Lorna Crozier

Thursday, March 16
Two showtimes: 7 pm & 8:30 pm (each performance approx. 45 min)
Celebration Hall at Mountain View Cemetery (5455 Fraser St.)

Free admission

On March 16, we return to Mountain View Cemetery in partnership with our friends at Little Chamber Music to present a new song cycle by Vancouver composer Leslie Uyeda. Featuring acclaimed mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, poetry by Lorna Crozier (OC), and a chamber ensemble of Vancouver’s finest, When I Stop Saying Your Name – Five Songs of Grief and Grieving will be presented twice in the same evening, alongside readings by Crozier and the premiere of a new instrumental work by Uyeda, Grief Lies Onward.

The Celebration Hall at Mountain View Cemetery is the perfect location for this musical examination of the difficult process of grief and grieving. 

Performing Memories with pianist Michael Park

Performing Memories with Michael Park

Unravelling a queer boy’s coming out, through recollections at the piano
Co-presented by Erato Ensemble Solo Series and Queer Arts Festival + SUM gallery
Jan 19, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $25 regular admission, $15 concession (plus fees), free for students & First Nations patrons

Performing Memories is a 35-minute solo piece blending speech and piano, written by Michael Park during the pandemic. In recounting the first moment he looked back at objects from his past, the narrator takes the audience on a journey of self-discovery through themes of isolation, shame, fear and death; but also joy, love, exploration and belonging. The performance includes works by composers Cecilia Livingston, Edward Grieg, and Richard Greig. Park has collaborated with director Esteban Guti to create a film version of the piece incorporating performance footage, dramatic reenactment, and illustration/animation by Héctor Rivera. This event features the world premiere screening of the Performing Memories film.

This project was made possible by the generous support of the BC Arts Council and Canadian Council for the Arts.

ABOUT Michael Park
Michael Park (he/they) is a pianist and composer with a keen interest in speech, humour, and improvisation. His aim is to give audiences an experience beyond the realm of traditional concert-going.

Michael is a passionate champion of new music. He’s performed dozens a of B.C. premieres as resident pianist with Vancouver’s Erato Ensemble, and supported the creation of more than 100 world premieres as founder and co-director of Art Song Lab, an innovative program that teams composers, poets, and world-class performers.

For more than a decade, Michael has collaborated with dancers, choreographers, and companies including Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Ballet BC. Taking inspiration from the movement style at hand, Michael has developed a fluency in improvisation that has been praised by dancers and teachers alike.

Michael’s own compositions have been performed in Vancouver at the VSO’s Jean Coulthard Reading Session, Sonic Boom Music Festival, Songfire Festival of Song, Queer Arts Festival, and Music on Main. His music has also been performed across North America, with notable premieres in Winnipeg, Boston, and New York.

Salón Silicón: Senos de Hombre

Senos de Hombre
Curated by Mexico City’s Salón Silicón: Olga Rodríguez, Romeo Gómez López and Laos Salazar

Exhibition runs Jan 24 – Mar 25, 2023
The exhibit is open to public drop ins Tue-Sat, 12 to 6pm
Opening reception (curators in attendance): Jan 24, 6 to 8pm | SOLD OUT
Silicone dildo workshop: Jan 25 – Jan 27 | SOLD OUT

Named after a common and deliberate misreading of the Spanish song “Que Bello,” Senos de Hombre or “man tits” is a group exhibition curated by Olga Rodríguez, Romeo Gómez López and Laos Salazar of Mexico City’s Salón Silicón gallery. The original lyrics of  the song: “Qué bellos son tus celos de hombre/how beautiful your man’s jealousy is” proves problematic for Rodríguez, as there is “nothing cute about jealousy, especially in a context where femicide is common and people are harmed just because of this ‘feeling’ in a man.” A common and humorous queering or “fix” for this line involves replacing the word “celos” with “senos”— the lyric now becoming: “how beautiful your man’s tits are.” With the change of one word, the song transforms from a praising of toxic masculinity, into a declaration of body positivity, posing the questions: What are man tits? How are body parts assigned gender? Senos de Hombre starts a conversation on how common assumptions of our bodies require some queering up.

Featuring work from several artists based in and around Mexico City including Romeo Gómez López, Sandra Blow, Alan Hernández, and Karl Frías García, Senos de Hombre creates a portrait of how non-binary and trans identities survive—and thrive—against a backdrop of colonialism, Catholicism, and cultural machismo. Explored through images, sculpture, and an adult-oriented workshop series, Senos de Hombre ultimately asks: “What makes a Queer body?”

Senos de Hombre is generously sponsored by The Parachute Fund.
Senos de Hombre is generously sponsored by the Deux Mille Foundation.

Read the press release for Senos de HombreEnglish/Español.

Workshop: Make Your Own Silicone Dildo

Three-day workshop facilitated by artist Romeo Gómez López
Artists concession $50, regular admission $70
Jan 25 – Jan 27, 6 to 9pm | SOLD OUT

Dildos are an instrument of sex, but also hold the power of deconstruction. By thinking that “all is dildo” as Paul B. Preciado suggests in his countersexual manifesto, we are freed in many ways from the tyranny of penises, changing the way our bodies experience proximity and pleasure. Dildos extend the plasticity of our bodies: “Anything can become a dildo. All is dildo. Even the penis.” This argument opens up the promises of queerness: refabricating our bodies and validating off-centre desires, ultimately allowing ourselves to think and fuck differently.

Over the course of three days, contemporary artist and sculptor Romeo Gómez López will introduce participants to the history of the dildo before facilitating the process of creating a dildo of their own imagining using a casting method with clay, plaster and high-grade skin safe silicone. 

All materials will be provided. Participants will be asked to prepare a design in advance to improve success and ensure their place in the workshop. Space is limited and participants must commit to all three days of the workshop in order to complete the work required to construct their dildo. Each workshop will be approximately 3 hours in length.

About Salón Silicón

Founded in 2017 by Olga Rodríguez, Romeo Gómez López and Laos Salazar, Salón Silicón is a gallery based in Mexico City, dedicated to promoting the work of women artists, queers and/or members of the LGBTI+ community. The gallery seeks to be a meeting point for different expressions, languages ​​and people. Olga Rodríguez is the gallery owner with experience in the production and marketing of contemporary art. She worked from 2008-2013 at the Juana de Aizpuru gallery in Madrid, and from 2015-2021 as manager of the Damián Ortega studio and workshop. Romeo Gómez López is a visual artist who works with alternate and nightmarish worlds contained in dioramas, sex shows with puppets and toys, which represent a resistance to the expectation of compulsory heterosexuality with a personal vision that is nurtured by humor and a pornographic imagination. Laos Salazar is an independent artist and curator who works on queer subjectivity and the construction of homosexual masculinity.

Senos de Hombre curators, from left to right: Romeo Gómez López, Laos Salazar and Olga Rodríguez of Salón Silicón. Photo by Jorge Gonzalez.

sticky extensions: Romi Kim in Collaboration with Queer Based Media

sticky extensions: Romi Kim in collaboration with Queer Based Media

Exhibition runs Oct 13 to Dec 8
Gallery hours: Tue–Sat, 12 to 6pm
Opening reception & performance: Oct 13, 6pm | SOLD OUT
Rhythms dance workshop: Oct 6, 6pm | SOLD OUT
Home meal feast workshops: Oct 26 & Nov 9, 6pm | SOLD OUT
Re: check in performance from SKIM & Bongganisa: Nov 24, 6pm | SOLD OUT

Romi Kim’s SUM gallery exhibition debut explores relationships through transformations of drag and play within created spaces. sticky extensions hosts collaborations with fellow artists Romeo Villanueva III, and Queer Based Media – Chris Reed and Kendell Yan – through performance, video and installations. Through video they explore the legacy and precarious existence of Warehouse, a DIY event space that has transformed endlessly for the Eastside queer racialized and trans communities. The exhibition opening night holds a meditative performance of care with drag artists SKIM, Maiden China and Continental Breakfast.

Throughout the course of the show, Romi and Romeo will be inviting participants to attend workshops exploring the communing experience of eating together and moving with one another. sticky extensions will evolve throughout its exhibition run, marked by performances from drag artists Bongganisa, SKIM, Maiden China and Continental Breakfast in the gallery. The artists will explore their relationship with one another in various ways throughout the exhibition. sticky extensions navigates Romi Kim’s extensions through spaces such as Warehouse, their relationships and their own body extending through materials. It will be a sticky experience.

Stickiness is tacky. It attaches one’s body or object to another body or object, sensation and feeling. It can create emotions of annoyance, disgust and fascination. sticky extensions explores the burden of 情 정: an untranslatable word that expresses attachment, feelings of connection and warmness that provoke social reciprocity. 情 encourages being present in your actions in order to create understanding. It grows over time. Kim’s exhibition is centred in thinking through relationality and thinking about their body made up with connections around them. As the exhibit continues, the space transforms over time through acts of performance, world building and homemaking. 

sticky extensions is made possible by the generous the support of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Cultural Project Grants program and The Hamber Foundation.

Exhibition Workshops & Events:

Artists Romi Kim & Romeo Villanueva III hosts an intimate dance and movement workshop in advance of their sticky extensions exhibition opening.

This 2-hour dance workshop brings participants along a movement journey following a “wave” of rhythms. The 5Rhythms* are called flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. This workshop will create a safe space for people of all dance experience and encourage dancers to ground themselves in their body and share a space of togetherness.

*5Rhythms is a movement meditation practice devised by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970s. It draws from indigenous and world traditions using tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical and eastern philosophy. It also draws from Gestalt therapy, the human potential movement and transpersonal psychology. Fundamental to the practice is the idea that everything is energy, and moves in waves, patterns and rhythms.

In this intimate, 4-person workshop, guests will be invited into the space and be provided with a meal made by artists Romi Kim and Romeo Villanueva III. Attendees are asked to bring their own small, sharable food item to the meal. For second-generation Asians, food is often a strong connection to culture and a form of showing love. This first of two home feast meals focuses on the Korean jal meokgetseumnida. Romi and Romeo wish to share this communal experience with workshop participants. Please note that the meal provided will likely include meat, fish or seafood.

  • Kain Tayo (Filipino food workshop experience 2) – Nov 9, 6pm

In this intimate, 4-person workshop, guests will be invited into the space and be provided with a meal made by artists Romi Kim and Romeo Villanueva III. Attendees are asked to bring their own small, sharable food item to the meal. For second-generation Asians, food is often a strong connection to culture and a form of showing love. This second of two home feast meal workshops focuses on the Filipino Kain Tayo. Romi and Romeo wish to share this communal experience with workshop participants. Please note that the meal provided will likely include either meat, fish or seafood.

Re: check in by Bongganisa and SKIM explores through drag, materiality and performance what it means to maintain a relationship. The two artists started their friendship in 2011 after meeting each other at a weeklong summer camp. Bongganisa lived in Maple Ridge at the time and SKIM in Armstrong. They emailed each other everyday for an entire year. Their journey’s have since brought them to live and work with one another in the same place. 

SKIM defines drag as a performance of gender, explored through fantasy and play. Bongganisa sees drag as creative radical expression through queerness and transformation. Both believe drag is political and important in thinking through possibilities of how a person resides in everyday life.   

Re: check in is an intimate inquiry into the politics of being in drag and focuses on the importance of Bongganisa and SKIM’s relationship in order to offer various ways of understanding one’s being, knowing and doing.

This event is ASL-interpreted.


김새로미, Romi Kim or SKIM in drag, is a queer, genderfluid, second-generation Korean. They identify themselves in recognizing these words as verbs rather than nouns or adjectives—constantly in action, and in flux. They are an uninvited settler living and working on the unceded xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel íl ̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Kim explores personal histories, vulnerability, and intimacy within colonial spaces within their work. They are interested in transforming the power of a story and privileges within language. Kim has a collaborative artistic practice as part of the House of Rice, an all-Asian drag house in Vancouver and a solo one. Kim has shown works in South Korea, in the United Kingdom, and across Canada. They have performed in South Korea, Vietnam, online internationally, and in Vancouver. Kim received a BFA in Visual Arts and Gender Studies at the University of Victoria in 2017 and they are currently studying at the University of British Columbia as an MFA candidate.


Queer Based Media is a QTPOC multimedia production company that provides videography, photography, projection installation, and design work for queer creators on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl  ̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (so-called Vancouver, BC). Queer Based Media has produced award winning work for non-binary drag collective, The Darlings; The Transform Cabaret Festival, Indigiqueer filmmaker Rylan Friday, and Lantern Films. In addition to producing content, Queer Based Media provides a digital venue on their website for mutual aid and social equity fundraisers, such as Rainbow Refugee, and Visible. Queer Based Media is Vee Pho, Chris Reed, and Kendell Yan. https://www.queerbasedmedia.com/


Romeo Villanueva III (he/him) is a visual artist and drag performer working on the traditional territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver). His work explores identity and expression by reflecting on past experiences and reimagining those experiences through illustration, costume, or performance. He has received a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of British Columbia. Throughout Vancouver, Villanueva can be seen performing as his drag persona Bong Ganisa (gah-NEE-sah) in shows such as Commercial Drag and Ricecake, and was named Commercial Drag All Star 2020. Dong’s work has also been seen online in events such as QMUNITY’s Virtual 16th IDAHOT Breakfast, New West Pride, and the Vines Art Festival.

Read the press release for sticky extensions.

Queering the Air with Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa

QUEERing the air with rachel kiyo iwaasa
Sept 23, 7:30pm
An evening of music by Queer and Trans composers, performed by pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa
SUM Gallery

Featuring three exclusive world premieres, by composers Cris Derksen, Annette Brosin and Rodney Sharman!

+ works written for Rachel Iwaasa, by Leslie Uyeda, Mary Jane Coomber and Russell Wallace.

Co-presented by Canadian Music Centre BC and Queer Arts Festival + SUM gallery.
Tickets: $25 regular admission, $15 concession, free for students and First Nations patrons. All tickets proceeds will go towards Out in Schools.

Cris Derksen’s commission the bells was funded by the Canadian League of Composers as an initiative of the Canadian Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). 

Russell Wallace’s piece, A Clean Start, was named after Rachel (which means Innocent, like a lamb) and Kiyo (Pure, like clear running water). The name speaks to hope. Hope for a life washed clean of intergenerational trauma. Hope for a post-pandemic restart that has learned its lessons (that Black Lives Matter, that we are interconnected, that what happens to the most vulnerable affects everyone). Hope that as the number of unmarked graves exposed at former Residential Schools continues to rise, Canadians will learn to reconcile the difference between what we were taught and the history we can no longer deny. Hope for a way forward in shared respect, reciprocity, and responsibility.


Hailed in the press as a “keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse” (Georgia Straight) with the “emotional intensity” to take a piece “from notes on a page to a stunning work of art” (Victoria Times Colonist), Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa is recognized among Canada’s foremost contemporary music pianists.  Selected to close the ISCM World New Music Days 2017 in Vancouver, Rachel has performed in the Netherlands, Germany, US and across Canada, with engagements including Muziekweek Gaudeamus, Music TORONTO, Music on Main, Vancouver New Music, Redshift, Western Front, Vancouver Symphony, Victoria Symphony, the Aventa Ensemble (Victoria), CONTACT contemporary music (Toronto), New Works Calgary, Groundswell New Music (Winnipeg), and Vancouver Pro Musica.

Rachel has commissioned or premiered works by many of Canada’s most eminent composers, such as Hildegard Westerkamp, Rodney Sharman, Jocelyn Morlock, Nicole Lizée, Jordan Nobles, Jeffrey Ryan, Farshid Samandari, Marci Rabe, and Emily Doolittle. One half of the acclaimed contemporary flute/piano duo Tiresias with Mark Takeshi McGregor, Rachel has also collaborated with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Judith Forst, Heather Pawsey, the Bozzini Quartet, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, and Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire. Her interdisciplinary adventures have led to work with photo-based artist SD Holman, playwright/director David Bloom, choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, and multi-media provocateur Paul Wong.


Juno-nominated Cris Derksen is an internationally respected Indigenous Cellist and Composer. In a world where almost everything — people, music, cultures — get labelled and slotted into simple categories, Cris Derksen represents a challenge. Originally from Northern Alberta, she comes from a line of chiefs from NorthTall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s. Derksen braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music.

As composer ,Derksen has a foot in many worlds. 2020 compositions include: Napi and the Rocks – A symphonic story commissioned by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; Same Wave – an 8-part choral piece, commissioned by Camerata Nova Choir; The Triumph of the Euro-Christ, an 8-part choral piece commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario. 2019 compositions include: Maada’ookii Songlines – a mass choral piece for 250 singers, commissioned by Luminato Festival; Rebellion – a short symphonic piece commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra; Iron Peggy – a theatre piece commissioned by the Vancouver Children’s Festival; and a new performance art piece commissioned by the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ikumagiialit.

Derksen performs nationally and internationally, solo and with some of Canada’s Finest, including; Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, Naomi Klein, and Leanne Simpson, to name a few. Recent performance destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Sweden, and a whole lot of Canada; the place Derksen refers to as home.