Jesse Birch, Nanaimo Art Gallery curator, hangs a print by B.C. artist Anna Wong. An exhibit of 70 of the artist’s works opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Jesse Birch, Nanaimo Art Gallery curator, hangs a print by B.C. artist Anna Wong. An exhibit of 70 of the artist’s works opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

In its next exhibition, the Nanaimo Art Gallery is sharing the life story of an underappreciated B.C. artist.

From Dec. 4 to Feb. 7 the NAG presents Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads, a touring show organized by the Burnaby Art Gallery that examines the oeuvre of Vancouver-raised painter and printmaker Anna Wong.

“She is extremely underappreciated,” NAG curator Jesse Birch said. “She was doing a lot of important work at the time that a lot of her peers were recognized … and it was a really important project for the Burnaby Art Gallery to try to bring a new investigation into her work and celebrate this under-regarded artist.”

Birch suggested one reason Wong is overlooked is that she didn’t stay in Vancouver. While she was born and raised in the city’s Chinatown in 1930, Wong left to study Chinese brush painting in Hong Kong and after returning home to attend the Vancouver School of Art with a focus on abstraction and printmaking, she moved to New York City to continue her studies and eventually became an art professor. In the 1980s Wong came back to B.C. where she set up a studio on Quadra Island. She died in 2013.

The exhibition features more than 70 items displayed chronologically, starting with her earlier brush paintings, then delving into her printmaking, including lithography and etching, and concluding with her textile work, an interest Birch noted came to Wong late in life and harkens back to her youth working in her parents’ tailor shop.

The exhibition also features items taken from Wong’s studio, including art-making tools and trinkets from her travels. Among those curiosities are stone carvings, religious iconography and a pig skull salvaged from a family feast.

“They’re basically different objects that had some kind of meaning for her,” Birch said. “Although we don’t have a clear idea what the meaning was for her, they were strong enough for her to save so they must have influenced her in some way.”

Birch said Wong’s practice is all about moving through the world and translating that experience through her art, a concept that suits the gallery’s ongoing thematic inquiry.

“One of the main reasons we wanted to bring this show over here was because of the way it ties so nicely with our question ‘what moves?’ and the pleasure of following an artist’s trajectory though their development and in the movements in art and also through their travels through their life story,” he said.

WHAT’S ON … Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads comes to the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St., from Dec. 4 to Feb. 7, 2021.

RELATED: Indigenous artists showcase extreme sport-themed art at Nanaimo Art Gallery

RELATED: Nanaimo Art Gallery holds first exhibition since COVID-19 rules implemented



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Art

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Claire Geddes Bailey, curatorial intern with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a print by B.C. artist Anna Wong. An exhibit of 70 of the artist’s works and tools with writings and photos chronicling her life opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Claire Geddes Bailey, curatorial intern with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a print by B.C. artist Anna Wong. An exhibit of 70 of the artist’s works and tools with writings and photos chronicling her life opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Jesse Birch, Nanaimo Art Gallery curator, hangs a print by B.C. artist Anna Wong. An exhibit of 70 of the artist's works opens Friday, Dec. 4 and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Just Posted

The Gettin’ Higher Choir will be performing alongside Wavelengths Community Choir and special guests during an online concert Jan. 30. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria choirs team up for online concert fundraiser

Valdy among performers for free concert

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)
Juno-winning dub poet is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet this year

Lillian Allen will present online lecture, reading and Q-and-A

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Most Read