Wy Joung Kou is a queer, chronically ill, multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. With a body of work spanning mosaic art, poetry, sound, movement, performance, video, and installation, their work is often inextricable from queer, disabled, diasporic narratives. Grounded in a disability justice framework centering accessibility, community and interdependence, their artistic practice is interwoven with personal narratives of grief, care, and intimacy.
Kou’s educational trajectory as a professional artist has followed a path combining mentorship and community-models of learning, skill exchange, and collaborative process. From participation in collaborative disability-arts projects such as Crip Interiors (Creative Users) and Inkling (Red Dress Productions), they have gained invaluable insights into the values and practices of creating accessible and multi-sensory artwork for a wide range of audiences.
As a mosaic artist, they like to think of their work as visual-tactile storytelling. Their stories are ones told in languages of colour, texture, grit, and feeling. Kou first began learning mosaic work via a year-long community arts internship with Red Dress Productions (RDP) in 2015. Since then they have worked with the RDP team on multiple large-scale mosaic works installed permanently in indoor and outdoor Toronto/GTA locations, including a 16-foot-long mosaic mural of their own design at Street Health (2018). Kou’s independent mosaic work has exhibited in establishments such as Tangled Arts & Disability Gallery, The Gladstone Hotel, Critical Distance Gallery and the ArQuives. They began undertaking commission work in 2020, with their first commissioned mosaic piece now installed permanently at the newly re-built North York Women’s Shelter.
Kou comes to performance work with a movement repertoire rooted in over a decade of formal training as a competitive figure skater, dancer and Taekwon-Do black belt. Their professional ventures in movement and performance are now mainly as a member of RAW – Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers. As an apprentice from 2017-2019 and a member as of 2020, their participation in RAW is centered around performance, creation, and education.
They have also taken to the stage as a writer, reading their poetry at events including Naked Heart Festival, Unruly Bodies, and Bricks & Glitter Festival. They have been writing poetry since their youth and printed their first DIY (zine) poetry chapbook “Tigressbalm” in 2018.
Kou is the founder and organizer of the Sick & Disabled Queer Zine Fair (2018-2019) as well as an Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency alum. They were the inaugural winner of the JRG Grant for Artist with Disabilities (2018), and have been the recipient of multiple Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts grants.
Kou has had the great pleasure of working with Red Dress Productions as an associate artist since 2015, and now, as their Engagement Coordinator.