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 drawings by Tam of the veggies and herbs she has been cultivating, and a drawn reinterpretation of a certificate of horticultural merit awarded to Tam’s grandmother in 2008 for her community plot. Beneath the billboard is a custom-built planter in which Tam has grown various herbs and vegetables from seed. Structures like planter boxes and balcony gardens outpace their humble forms, immediately connecting us to fresh food and to community when shared. Together, the planter box and image of Tam’s grandmother consider the intergenerational food systems that link us across time and space.

Tam has also collaborated with Tea Base, a space that develops solidarity across marginalized groups through relationships, joy, and collaboration, to support a community garden situated within Chinatown (222 Spadina Avenue). Through this collaboration, Tea Base has grown and tended to seeds provided by Tam, and in the process made visible one of the many ways that individuals and communities intervene in and adjust to public space in support of alternative ways of living and sharing. Seeds for the Future, Seeds for Now is presented in the context of Place Settings, a public art exhibition curated by Noa Bronstein.

Seeds for the Future, Seeds for Now is on view at 180 Shaw Street, outside Artscape Youngplace, through June to August, 2021.

Image: Karen Tam, Seeds for the Future, Seeds for Now, 2021. 8 x 8 foot billboard at 180 Shaw Street in Toronto’s West Queen West neighbourhood. 

About the Curator(s)

Noa Bronstein

Noa Bronstein is a curator and writer based in Toronto. Her practice is most often focused on considering issues around place and space-making and thinking through how artists disrupt and subvert systems including those registering across social, political and economic structures.

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About the Artists

Karen Tam

Karen Tam is a Montréal artist whose research focuses on the constructions and imaginations of ‘ethnic’ spaces through installations in which she recreates Chinese restaurants, karaoke lounges, opium dens, curio shops and other sites of cultural encounters. She has exhibited her work and participated in residencies in North America, Europe, and China, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the He Xiangning Art Museum. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths (University of London) and a MFA in Sculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau.

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