Crossing: Art, Heritage and Personal Journeys opened on the Lunar New Year, February 10, and by no coincidence. Crossing delves into the intricate narratives of three local artists, who, along with their families, embarked on transformative journeys from Asia to Canada. 

On this celebratory day the Gallery held a Public Open House to mark the opening of the exhibition Crossing, and greeted a full-house of excited visitors eager to get first-hand perspectives from the three featured local artists, Yumie Kono, Andy Lou, and Chrystal Phan during our Artist Panel.

During the talk, moderated by exhibition curator, Dr. Heng Wu, AGGV Curator of Asian Art, attendees were taken even further into the lives, experiences, and inspirations of these three remarkable artists:


Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Yumie Kono credits her mother, poet Hideko Kono, for the start of her artistic career.  Kono shares stories of her mother’s remarkable strength, and the tragedies her family endured living through the 1945 Hiroshima bombing.   In Kono’s work, hardness and softness come together in a way much like her lived experiences have. She creates her landscapes in search of Genfukei, the Japanese concept of experiencing the melding of outer landscapes, places we see in front of us with our eyes, meeting with inner landscapes, places we remember in our mind’s eye.

Artist, Yumie Kono. Courtesy of AGGV.


Andy Lou, originally from Bejing, China, was taught by his father, a famous Chinese artist who learned from a master in traditional Chinese brush painting. When Lou attended art school in the U.S., he realized he could make his work unique by combining the use of traditional Chinese rice paper, brush, and ink with the brightly coloured paints he learned about in school. Inspired by nature, his innovative use of bright colours paired with traditional Chinese ink painting traditions, celebrates the beauty of the West Coast he now calls home.

Dr. Heng Wu, AGGV Curator of Asian Art and Artist, Andy Lou. Courtesy of AGGV.


For Chrystal Phan and other second-generation immigrants who were born and raised in Canada, an apple is a common fruit; however, for their parents who came to Canada seeking refuge, an apple was considered a luxury item. In her work, Phan painstakingly creates each apple by hand in clay to signify the hard work many new immigrants undertake. Each apple is painted with nail polish to represent the numerous Vietnamese immigrants working in nail salons. By combining these concepts, Phan is addressing the struggles many second-generation immigrants wrestle with –  hiding their own challenges because life is seen as much easier than the first-generation’s experiences.

Artist, Chrystal Phan. Courtesy of AGGV.
The Spencer Mansion full of guests enjoying the Crossing Artist Panel. Courtesy of AGGV.

“The depth with which these artists have shared their experiences, inspirations, and stories has enriched our understanding and appreciation of the creative process. We look forward to hosting more events like this at the AGGV where artists, curators, and audiences can engage in dialogue to explore art and culture.”

– Dr. Heng Wu

Crossing: Art, Heritage and Personal Journeys is on now until May 26, 2024.



Featured Image: Curator of Asian Art, Dr. Heng Wu, and artists Andy Lou, Yumie Kono and Chrystal Phan at the Crossing Artist Panel. Courtesy of AGGV.