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Installation view of Hilda and Clare, 2010

Clare Yow is a Chinese-Canadian visual artist. Her lens-based works revolve around the politics of identity and being—in particular, how race, transnationality, and feminist culture intersect with the materials of everyday life.

From a constant need to document the very ordinary and seemingly unremarkable as a young photographer, Clare’s art has since evolved to a focus on interrogating and honouring lived experience as a woman of colour, all the while situating herself on the lands she has called home. Looking at the body, objects, and place, she continually returns to notions around embodiment, consumption, labour, and loss. These ideas help shape the landscape where her subjectivities and personal politics collide.

Clare works primarily in photography, creating pieces that are at once, conceptual art and documentary. She has explored use of complementary mediums including performance, video, installation, and writing. Her practice further extends into the gestures of walking and photographing in urban environments — as a flâneuse and female street photographer — roles she has inhabited since the early 2000s.

As Clare has come to discern over time, her art practice diverges beyond traditional notions of what contemporary art-making can entail. It is inspired and shaped by community, and driven by social change and justice. In fall 2020, Clare launched United Auntiesa market that features a curated selection of local art and crafts in Vancouver’s Chinatown. An extension of her practice, Aunties works to support artists and strengthen community connections in the neighbourhood.

Art is thoroughly embedded into my everyday. It encompasses everything from participating in community projects, attending rallies, and volunteering, to listening, lifting up, resisting, and above all, who-what-how I love. As a racialized woman in this white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (an incredibly resonant term by bell hooks), the personal is always a matter of politics for me.

Clare holds an MFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia and an Honours BFA in Photographic Studies from Ryerson University. Since 2003, she has participated in exhibitions and events across Canada such as at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and University of British Columbia (Vancouver), Two Rivers Gallery (Prince George), The Works Art and Design Festival (Edmonton), Koffler Gallery (Toronto), and The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery (St. John’s).

Born in Singapore and raised there and in the Toronto area on the territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Clare is an diasporic immigrant-settler woman in what is colonially known as Canada. She resides, works, and parents on the unceded, ancestral, and occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ /Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, so-called Vancouver. Her art studio is located in the city’s historic Chinatown at BCA Sun Wah where she grows her art practice independently, while very occasionally freelancing on design, communications, and marketing projects, and caring for her young son.