Karen Tam

Karen Tam is a Montréal-based artist and curator whose research focuses on the constructions and imaginations of cultures and communities through her installations in which she recreates Chinese restaurants, karaoke lounges, opium dens, curio shops and other sites of cultural encounters. Since 2000, she has exhibited her work and participated in residencies in North America, Europe, and China, including Victoria and Albert Museum, He Xiangning Art Museum, and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Most recently, she curated the ‘Whose Chinatown?’ exhibition at Griffin Art Projects in 2021, and ‘Rencontres avec l’autre soi-même’ show at EXPRESSION, Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinthe. She has received grants and fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts du Québec, and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada. Tam was a finalist for the 2017 Prix Louis-Comtois, a finalist for the 2016 Prix en art actuel from the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec, and long-listed for the 2010 and 2016 Sobey Art Awards.

Tam holds a MFA in Sculpture (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and a PhD in Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths, University of London). She is a contributor to the Asia Collections outside Asia: Questioning Artefacts, Cultures and Identities in the Museum (2020) publication edited by Iside Carbone and Helen Wang, to Alison Hulme’s (ed.) book, The Changing Landscape of China’s Consumerism (2014), and to John Jung’s book, Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurant (2010). Her work is in museum and corporate collections like the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Collection Hydro-Québec, Collection Royal Bank of Canada, Microsoft Art Collection, and in private collections in Canada, United States, and United Kingdom. She is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau in Montreal.

Image Caption: Arbre à souhaits / Chinatown Wishing Tree, Public art installation with 1300 wishes written on Tyvek tags, plastic balls, flagging tape, 50′ x 20′ x 20′, As installed in Montreal Chinatown, corner of Saint-Laurent and René-Lévesque Blds. Commission by the Partenariat du Quartier des Spectacles, 2021, Photo Credit: Kim Soon Tam

PUBLIC ART: Billboard on Shaw by Karen Tam

June 18, 2021 - August 15, 2021
Seeds for the Future, Seeds for Now is a multi-part project by Montréal-based artist Karen Tam, reflecting on the significance of access to culturally connected foods, locally grown produce and networks of care. The composition shared here brings together images of Tam’s grandmother on her thriving balcony garden, various drawingsFind out more


June 18, 2021 - August 15, 2021

Place Settings is a large-scale, durational project that considers how food functions to connect and disrupt. Focusing specifically on the intersections of food, public space, and architecture, Place Settings points to formal and informal structures that offer forms of nourishment, be they physical, emotional, social, or political.

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