Debra Zhou

In 2020 Interconnected went virtual and this year, our focus will be creating virtual spaces for Pan-Asian Canadian artists to showcase their art and stories. The project aims to build and develop an inclusive artist and gallery network that will support Pan Asian-Canadian Art in a lasting and meaningful way, and we’re starting one artist at a time. 

This month we are launching our new Interconnected Virtual Artist Spotlight Series, which will showcase a different Asian-Canadian artist each month through the creation of virtual exhibition space. Participating artists self-curate their exhibitions and share their stories in bespoke virtual environments created by Interconnected and promoted by explorASIAN and our other Interconnected Community partners. Our first participating artist is Debra Zhou!

Debra Zhou

All life energy is stored in a seed (series), 2019, watercolour on paper, 12×12 inches

Metro Vancouver-based artist Debra Zhou started her art journey as a child growing up in Shanghai, China, where the interconnection of Eastern and Western culture has been woven into the fabric of the city for generations. Art naturally came to her at a young age, and she excelled in painting and drawing throughout her school years. Moving to Canada as she turned 18 was a major transition, and the need for self-discovery and expression led her to pursue a degree in Psychology, a subject that was not popular among first generation Chinese immigrants. However, art remained a constant passion for her as she continued to develop her artistic voice.

The Stage, 2019, watercolour on paper, 11 x 14 inches
It is a strange world that we live in yet everything seems to have happened before, 2019, Watercolour on paper, 11 x 14 inches

To immerse herself in art, she sought out a curatorial practice that focused on contemporary art and produced exhibitions for local arts organizations. Later she devoted years working as a communications and fundraising professional at the Vancouver Art Gallery, taking a supportive role to help promote and fund artistic productions. Energized by what she has resonated with over time, she felt even more compelled to resume her own artistic practice with new and bold gestures. In recent years, she has produced a body of watercolour paintings inspired by our natural world and outer space.

These meditative and dream-like paintings reference their brush strokes to Chinese ink painting and incorporate elements of nature, cosmic impressions and subconscious imagery to create a sense of power, wonder, freedom, mystery and curiosity.

From left to right: Field Study, 2018 watercolour on paper, 11×15 inches, Making Waves (series), 2018 watercolour on Paper, 9×12 inches, Making Waves (series), 2018, watercolour on Paper, 9×12 inches

These meditative and dream-like paintings reference their brush strokes to Chinese ink painting and incorporate elements of nature, cosmic impressions and subconscious imagery to create a sense of power, wonder, freedom, mystery and curiosity. The use of water as a medium is very intentional as a recognition to the passing of time, chance happening and transformation. Debra also supports local charities through donating artworks to auctions by the Richmond Art Gallery, Access Gallery, Arts Umbrella and Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation.

Climb a mountain to see the stars, 2019, watercolour on paper, 9×12 inches