As part of Virtual explorASIAN 2020, the Interconnected Project continues its celebration of Asian Heritage Month online, casting a light on art that focus on Asian heritage and culture. In this article we highlight the work of artist Esmie Gayo McLaren.
Esmie Gayo McLaren is a Filipino-Canadian visual artist based in Vancouver, BC. Using oil or watercolour, McLaren paints scenes of everyday life through an emotive use of color and light. She received her BSc in Biology/Psychology from the University of Alberta and artistic training from Emily Carr University. McLaren has garnered art awards such as Best Work on Paper, Best of Show, and Excellence in Figurative Work. Her memberships include the Federation of Canadian Artists, Society of Philippine American Artists, and the International Watercolor Society. Her milestone achievements in 2018 were Expanding Horizons, a solo exhibit in New York City, and “Essence”, a small-group exhibit by select Filipino Canadian artists which McLaren presented to empower women. The latter was held at Art Space in North Vancouver and at the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa.
In 2019, McLaren completed a duo exhibit with Celia Leung at Jeunesse Gallery of Fine Arts. She also participated in juried exhibits at venues such as Federation Gallery, Roundhouse Exhibition Hall, Kamloops Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, and Kosovo National Museum. In 2020 thus far, her work travelled to Italy, by invitation, for Fabriano in Acquarello Art Festival. Additional to her artistic practice, McLaren is passionate about connecting communities, women’s/children’s issues, gardening, nature, and travel.
McLaren’s community bridging goes beyond artmaking to organizing meaningful events and collaborations such as “Essence”, Generation One Art Exhibitions, and First Families, First Stories Project. VAHMS’ Generation One was a platform to engage communities and promote the works of first generation Asian artists. The First Families, First Stories Project which she coordinated with the late Jim Wong-Chu was conceived to strengthen immigrant identities that comprise the diverse Canadian culture. Additionally, McLaren played a pivotal role in organizing explorASIAN 2014’s focus on the Filipino community.
You can also learn more about the artist’s work here.