All That We Hold
permanent installation, commissioned by the North York Women's Shelter
glass, ceramic, grout & Weldbond on Crezon board
3 feet x 2.5 feet
This piece honours all the things, metaphorical and physical, that we hold onto for ourselves & for others, whether it be for safety, survival, hope, pleasure, or otherwise.
Image Description: Wide oval shaped mosaic featuring an outstretch hand, palm up, in browns, pinks and oranges. Behind it is a big round yellow sun and large blue and white ocean waves. In the bottom right corner is a smaller circle, resembling a full moon.
Photo by Wy Joung Kou
funded and supported by the JRG Society for the Arts
glass, ceramic, stone, grout & Weldbond adhesive on plywood
4 separate segments each measuring: 2 feet x 1 foot
This design is based off a Chinese brush painting of a tiger that has lived in Kou's family home for as long as they can remember, painted by one of their Great Uncles on their father's side. Mirroring traditional imagery via a non-traditional medium (Chinese brush painting via contemporary stylized mosaic work), this work asks a question of adaptation from my perspective as a diasporic mixed-race person; how can one connect to traditional cultural material as a person far removed from said traditions, if not by creating new ways of engaging that are not directly aligned with but instead existing in parallel with the traditional? The Tiger sheds light on the nuanced intersection of identity, place, and ancestry.
Kou graciously acknowledges the JRG Society for the Arts for both awarding them the funds to create this work and for operating from a place of sensitivity and commitment to understanding the specific needs of disabled artists.
Image Description: Tall rectangular mosaic featuring a large orange tiger, roaring and emerging out from the grasses, trees and rocks. Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight. Photo by Wy Joung Kou
Light, and Light, and Light, Glistening and Alive
funded by the Ontario Arts Council
glass, ceramic, grout & Weldbond adhesive on plywood
2 feet x 2 feet
2 feet x 1 foot
2 feet x 2 feet
This triptych is an attempt to represent the stories hidden beneath skin. Colour and texture, vivid and dynamic, bring to the foreground experiences of “invisible” illness, pain, and healing through a visual and tactile language that beckons loudly to be witnessed. Hard and inflexible materials of ceramic, porcelain, glass, and grout coming together into a new form that reflects light and light and light, glistening and alive, forgiving and imperfect, is a tale of survival and transformation; not transformation in the sense of “I was sick and now I am healed” but in the sense of “I was against the grief and now I am moving with it, mostly”. This work speaks to the tumultuous process of cultivating love [and access] for one’s own body in the face of illness and loss.
Image Description: Series of three mosaics depicting 1) front side of a torso, from nipples down to just above the groin (square mosaic) 2) low back (smaller rectangular mosaic) 3) side profile from mid belly down to mid thigh (square mosaic). Mosaics feature an array of both warm and cold colours and have these colourful lines throughout, defining the contours, grooves, and curves of the body.
Photos by Yann Garcia
Hard Water / Soft Water
created at the Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency
with material budget sponsorship from Red Dress Productions
glass, ceramic, grout & Weldbond on plywood
series of 6: 8 inches x 8 inches each
These mosaics are two of a dozen pieces created at the ILGBT Artist Residency in 2018. Drawing on water as a means to express the nuances of diasporic identity and politics, these pieces are inspired by the 55km-long stretch of ocean water beneath the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge - a recently constructed infrastructure foreshadowing of the possible reabsorption of Hong Kong into mainland China. In contrast, they are also inspired by the relatively calmer waters of Lake Ontario on which the residency took place, whose calm is akin the reality of Kou's experience as someone far removed, both geographically and culturally, from the political turmoil, protests, violence and restless ocean waters in Hong Kong.
Image Description: Six square mosaics depicting various water scenes. Three of them show large curling ocean waves, and three of them show more abstract interpretations of calmer lake waters. Colour scheme is mostly blues, greens, white and black, with touches of warmer colours throughout.
Photos by Wy Joung Kou
Street Health "Growth" Community Mosaic Project
project supported by Red Dress Productions (RDP) and the Ontario Arts Council
mural design and artistic lead: Wy Joung Kou
artist interns: Aaron Bowerman, Dan Buckley, Tomas Cavalheiro-Chin
RDP artistic co-directors: Anna Camilleri and Tristan R. Whiston
permanent public outdoor installation at Street Health, 338 Dundas Street East, Toronto
porcelain, glass, stone, grout & Weldbond on MDO sheet
16 feet x 3 feet
This project emerged following RDP's first community-engaged mosaic project and installation at Street Health earlier in 2018. Using art-based research findings from the first project, the Growth mural was designed using themes and imagery suggestions put forth by Street Health community members. The mural was constructed over an 8-week period with community members in open studio drop-in sessions as well as in closed artistic mentorship sessions with artist interns. Kou embarked on this project under Tristan and Anna's mentorship to undertake and complete their first outdoor large-scale mosaic design and community-engaged project in an artistic lead position.
Image Description: One full wide shot of the entire mosaic, and two close-up detail shots. The mosaic is a long, irregular shaped strip resembling rolling hills with one circle at the top of each hill. From left to right, the 8 circles grow in size and show evolving scenes of sprouts blossoming into flowers against a blue sky background. The "rolling hills" strip is made up of colourful layers resembling grass, soil, clay, an underground blue river, and finally bedrock at the bottom, created with dark coloured polished pebbles.
Photos by Zoe Gemelli