Don Kwan

          Artist Profile 

What can belonging look like? A third-generation Chinese Canadian, Don Kwan turns to his own experiences and challenges of being a gay, East Asian artist as a way to ground in broader conversations about identity, representations, and intergenerational memory-making in the diaspora. 

His current project, A Foreign Space, collapses the familiarity of everyday objects, the Chinese lantern the disco ball and Chinese restaurant takeout containers.  The nuanced meaning of a Chinese lantern while traditionally signalling social status and vitality often depends on its colour. Here the mirrored surface echoes the ubiquitous form of the mirror ball - a hallmark of queer celebration.  Understood within the context of the larger installation, which will eventually include astronauts, the lantern stands in as a moon, casting the astronaut as a newcomer tentatively exploring the unknown. Always drawing from familiar forms and re-deploying them in provocative ways, A Foreign Space, dressed in symbolic found objects, likens the complexities of Kwan’s embodied experience to the apprehension and excitement of learning a new dance.

( curators ) Anna Shah Hoque / Cara Tierney 

To Be Continued, Troubling the Queer Archives. A foreign Space, CUAG Carleton University Art Gallery 



Curriculum Vitae

Don Kwan 

Visual Artist 


Ontario College of Art 1994

Ottawa School of Art 1997

Ottawa School of Art, Printmaking Workshop 2015

2020 Gallerie SAW Gallery, SAW Prize for New Works, Ottawa 2020

2011 Art Flow Gallery, Contemporary Asian Artist Award

2010 Capital Xtra, Hero Award ( accepted on behalf of Shanghai Restaurant )

2008 Council for the Arts Business Award ( accepted on behalf of Shanghai Restaurant )


2016 City of Ottawa Direct Art Purchase – Peer Assessment Committee

2015 Chinatown Mural Project

2015 Chinatown Craft Market-Chinatown BIA
2014 City of Ottawa, Underpass Mural Project

Art Collections

2020 Transmission – Covid 19 Series – City of Ottawa – Public Art Collection 

2019 - Vest, Invisible Identities Series- City of Ottawa - Public Art Collection 

2017 Longevity – mixed media on paper - City of Ottawa – Public Art Collection


2020 Myseum of Toronto - Tea Base - Quarantine Qapsule - Toronto 

2020 To be Continued – Troubling the Queer Archives- CUAG- Carleton University - Ottawa

2020 Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies – Banff Alberta

2020 LUCK, Carleton University, Human Rights, Resource and Education Centre 

2020 Signal, City of Ottawa Art Collection, new accuisitions. Karsh-Masson Gallery, City of Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa 

2019 Reconstructing Selves, Possible Worlds, Ottawa 

2019 Gallery 112- City of Ottawa Archives – Weaving the Web, the Chinese Experience in Canada

2019 Auspicious Anchor, solo exhibit, Peking Opera, Soirée, Arts Court Theatre Ottawa. 
2018 Chinese Wallpaper Series, solo exhibit, Shanghai Restaurant, Ottawa 

2017 Longevity, Karsh Masson- City of Ottawa, Direct Art Purchase

2017 Art House Cafe Ottawa, Ontario 

2015 EY Centre Ottawa

2014 Nuit Blanche Ottawa

2014 Raspberry Beret Pop Up Shop Hintonburg, Ottawa

2013 Nuit Blanche Ottawa 

2012 FestivAsia Chinatown, Ottawa

2011 1904 China Revolution Art Flow Gallery, Ottawa

2011 Chinatown Remixed Kowloon Market , Ottawa

2010 Wrath Gallery 101 Frames, Ottawa

2009 Trash Revisited Open Format Gallery ,Ottawa

2009 Chinatown Remixed Oriental Bakery, Ottawa

2007 Item, Saw Gallery,Ottawa

Other Interests 

Chinese Canadian Collective - Coping Through a Year of Covid 19 - Issue #1 (2020) 

Workers History Museum, The Wong Brothers, Graphic Novel Illustration (2018) 

Finding General Tsao, Presentation & Discussion (2017)

Diasopra & Dialogue, Artist Talk. King of the Yees, NAC (2017)

Ottawa Heritage Walks, Walking Tour Guide of Chinatown (2017)

Rethinking Canada 150, Networks and Nodes in Asian Canadian Visual Culture (2017) 

Lets Eat Cake, Enriched Bread Artist, Canada 150 (2017)

OLIP, Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, WOW Week Walking Tours of Chinatown Canada Dance Festival (2016)

Shiraz Mural Project (Completed Oct, 2015)

Canadian Museum of Nature, Nature Nocturne, Event Programming 

Artistic Director for Chinatown BIA & OSA Mural Project

Nuite Blanche Ottawa

FestivAsia – Artistic Director / Program Management

City of Ottawa Cultural Planning Group

Shanghai Restaurant – Artistic Director / Curator / Event Coordinator 

Chinatown Remixed / Collective, Founder & Chair ( 2009 – 2017 ) 

Saw Gallery, Board of Directors ( 2006-2008 )

Art in the Parking Lot, Ottawa, Chinatown 


Asian Heritage Month Society

Memberships, Collectives


Chinese Canadian Perspectives 

Chinatown Remixed Collective