Jul 17, 2024

Mother and Child by Esmie Gayo McLaren

Canadian Filipino Esmie Gayo McLaren and Chinese Canadian Celia Leung join forces in presenting nature and nurture through watercolour paintings at the Jeunesse Gallery of Fine Arts in Vancouver’s Kitsilano district duringthe month of May.

 “Just Breathe” is the first collaboration between McLaren and Leung, but they have worked together as organizers of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society’s Generation One group of artists. They both share advocacies of connecting communities and inspiring positivity through art.

McLaren’s art works in this exhibit is a collection of images of home and travels. She uses brightly-blended colours that suggest appreciation for both environmental and human subjects, encouraging viewers to reflect on their own memories and stories.

Leung’s Chinese watercolour paintings depict scenes of idyllic life in nature, from deer among Stanley Park’s totem poles to orcas with their young. Leung uses a combination of traditional gongbi (Highly detailed brush strokes) and xieyi (freestyle) art techniques to depict West Coast sceneries.

McLaren received artistic training through the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the Mandy Boursicot Classical Atelier and Gerry Thompson Studios. She has received numerous awards and is a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, the Society of Philippine American Artists and the International Watercolor Society. McLaren holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from the University of Alberta.

Hong Kong immigrant Leung developed her Chinese painting, calligraphy and seal-carving skills under the mentorship of celebrated Chinese-Canadian painter and professor Yukman Lai. Leung is a long-time member of the Chinese Canadian Artists Federation and teaches painting at the Chinese Mental Wellness Community Centre. She holds a degree in economics from the University of British Columbia.

Opening reception for “Just Breathe” is on May 4, from 2 p.m. at the Jeunesse Gallery of Fine Arts on 2668 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver and will run until May 31. The exhibit is supported by the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre’s Museum of Migration Society and Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society and forms part of the month-long celebration explorASIAN festival.

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