Angela May


Region: Vancouver BC
Gosei | Born 1990, Richmond, BC

Bio

Angela May (neé Kruger) is a visual artist, writer, scholar, and community activist. Across all of these forums, Angela's work explores the politics of loss, especially in her home of Vancouver, British Columbia, and particularly in the city's Downtown Eastside. Her first major public artwork, a creative video called dear community, interrogated the politics of Japanese Canadian presence and commemoration in the historic Powell Street neighbourhood (Paueru). Her current project (in addition to her studies as a PhD Student in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University) is a collection of linked short stories about SRO tenant organizing, tentatively titled Hotel Blue.

Angela holds a BA in English (University of Victoria), an MA in Socio-Cultural Studies of Health (Queen's University), a Creative Writing Certificate (Simon Fraser University), and is currently working towards her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Amber Dean in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.

In addition to her visual art practice, scholarship, and activism, Angela is a writer. Her writing has been published in The Volcano, The Bulletin / Geppo, Nikkei Images, Canadian Literature, emerge20, and other online forums. Four new poems—including one poem about Japanese Canadian Redress—are pending publication in an upcoming anthology from Gertrude’s Writing Room.

You can browse Angela's art on her Instagram page (@paperandplot). You can buy her artwork via Etsy or Big Cartel.

Artist Statement

I am a mixed (white/non-white) Japanese Canadian settler. I grew up on the west coast of British Columbia, where three places in particular have shaped who I am today: the city of Vancouver, built on the Unceded Territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh); the city of Victoria, built on the Unceded Territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekungwen, recognized today as the Songhees Nation), Wyomilth (recognized today as the Esquimalt Nation), and W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich); and the suburb of Tsawwassen, the never ceded but now treatied lands of the Tsawwassen First Nation (more here).
 
In 2014, I helped to organize the Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference, which connected me for the first time in my life to the wider Japanese Canadian community, and shortly thereafter to the Downtown Eastside community. Since then, exploring my family's and community's roots has led me to consider questions of home, displacement, dispossession, and loss in my academic, artistic, and activist work. Rather than focus on the violence endured by Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, however, much of my work considers the aftermaths of loss. In this way, I explore the past by attending to its impact in the present, especially for the low-income community in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
 
My artistic practice is emergent. While I often respond to themes of loss, I am, at my core, passionate about what connects us: our humanity. This passion has prompted a range of art, from the more explicitly political (as described above), to the joyful, to portraiture.

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