Community Penn faculty

Ken  Lum

Ken Lum

University of Pennsylvania

School of Design

Vancouver-born artist Ken Lum, is known for his conceptual and representational art in a number of media, including painting, sculpture and photography. A longtime professor, he currently is the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design in Philadelphia. He was formerly Professor of Art at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver where he was also Head of the Graduate Program in Studio Art; Bard College, Annendale on Hudson, New York, and the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. Besides English, Lum speaks French and Cantonese Chinese. A co-founder and founding editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, he is a prolific writer with numerous published articles, catalogue essays and juried papers. In 2000, he worked as co-editor of the Shanghai Biennale. As well, Lum was keynote speaker at the 2010 World Museums Conference held at the Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, the third conference accompanying the 15th Biennale of Sydney in Sydney, Australia in 2006 and the Universities Art Association of Canada conference held in Vancouver in 1997. As an artist, he has a long and active art exhibition record of over 30 years, including major exhibitions such as Documenta 11, the Venice Biennale, Sao Paolo Bienal, Shanghai Biennale, Carnegie Triennial, Sydney Biennale, Busan Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, Moscow Biennial, Whitney Biennial, among others. Since the mid 1990s, Lum has worked on numerous permanent public art commissions including for the cities of Vienna, the Engadines (Switzerland), Rotterdam, St. Louis, Leiden, Utrecht, Toronto and Vancouver. He has also realized temporary public art commissions in Stockholm, Istanbul, Torun (Poland), Innsbruck and Kansas City. He is currently working on a memorial to the 1986 Lake Nyos disaster for the Government of Cameroon. Related to his public art, he has written several essays on the nature of subject formation and public space. Lum’s public art often deals with individual and social identity formation in the context of historical trauma and the complications of official and non-official memory. In 2016, he completed a memorial to the Canadian war effort in Italy during World War 2. The work is sited in Nathan Phillips Square of Toronto City Hall and depicts the town of Ortona, Italy, in the aftermath of war while four soldiers stand sentinel at each corner of the low-perspective work. Lum has also worked as part of architectural/engineering teams. He was on a team with Dialog Design (Edmonton) in designing a replacement bridge for the Walterdale Bridge across the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. He was also part of team with The Planning Partnership of Toronto designing a public space called Huron Square for Toronto Chinatown. Lum was on a team with Miller Hull Architects of Seattle, in conjunction with Space2Place Landscape Architecture of Vancouver to devise a Master Plan for the Lions Gate Secondary Wastewater Treatment plant for North Vancouver, BC. Lum has also been involved in co-conceiving and co-curating several large scale exhibitions including Shanghai Modern: 1919 – 1949, an exhibition about the art, culture and politics of Shanghai during the first republican period of China after the demise of the Qing Dynasty, and to which he contributed an essay on the policy of aesthetic education in China’s first modern art school; Sharjah Biennial 2007: Belonging, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, a groundbreaking exhibition to which he contributed an essay on the subject of identity formation without foundations, and the NorthWest Annual in Seattle. He is co-curator of Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project, a city wide art public art exhibition in Philadelphia in 2017. The exhibition dealt with the ways in which space is engaged in terms of a city’s monumental landscape. The aim of Monument Lab was to better understand the mechanisms of memorialization by questioning the status of the monument in the context of its canonical disposition. The exhibition was widely reviewed and praised as well as become a referent for other cities in dealing with the problems of controversial monuments and statues. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a Penn Institute of Urban Research Fellow. He was offered a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University in 2011 which was not exercised. In late 2017, Lum was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada. A book of Lum’s writings is presently being prepared by Concordia University Press with anticipated issuance in mid to late 2018.
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