Artist, Educator, Writer

Roles at grunt

Board Member (2010 – 2014)


Laiwan is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator with a wide-ranging practice based in poetics and philosophy. Born in Zimbabwe of Chinese parents, her family immigrated to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. Her art training began at Emily Carr College of Art and Design (1983) and she returned to academia to receive an MFA from Simon Fraser University School for Contemporary Arts (1999). Recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 Emily Carr Award from Emily Carr University, recent Canada Council and BC Arts Council Awards, and the 2008 Vancouver Queer Media Artist Award, Laiwan has served on numerous arts juries, exhibits regularly, curates projects in Canada, the US, and Zimbabwe, is published in anthologies and journals, and is a cultural activist.

Laiwan has been investigating colonialism, with aim toward a decoloniality, since the late 1980s. She also has been exploring embodiment since 2000, through performativity, audio, music, improvisation, and varieties of media, along with bodily and emotional ways of knowing, so as to unravel and engage presence. Based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, she founded the Or Gallery in 1983 in Vancouver, Canada, was Chair of the grunt gallery Board of Directors from 2010 to 2014, and served on the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Committee and with the City’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group in the Heritage and Culture Working Group, active in the transformation and revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown. Laiwan taught in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College from 2001 to 2022, based at the satellite site in Washington State, USA, and she currently works as a planner for the Decolonization, Arts and Culture Department at the Vancouver Park Board with the City of Vancouver.

Laiwan, 2023

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