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ARTIST TALK + GROUP CONVERSATION: Reconstructing Selves // Marisa Gallemit, Don Kwan, Gabriela Warrior Renaud


ARTIST TALK: Reconstructing Selves

Please join us for a group conversation + artist talk exploring the complex issues and creative possibilities that flow from one’s cultural identities, through the lens of Ottawa-Gatineau creatives of Asian descent. Co-hosted by Possible Worlds and Shanghai Restaurant.

To coincide with the exhibition Reconstructing Selves at Possible Worlds which takes place during Asian Heritage Month (May), Filipino Heritage Month (June) and Asian Night Market in Chinatown (July 26-28, 2019).

DATE: Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 7:00-9:00 Doors open at 6:00 PM.

LOCATION: Shanghai Restaurant (651 Somerset Street West, one block west of Bronson Avenue and 2 blocks east of Possible Worlds)

This event is open to the public and PWYC (suggested $8-10). Residents and creatives of all identities, backgrounds and generations are welcome to attend.

Possible Worlds will be open on Wednesday June 12 pre- and post-artist talk for exhibition viewings from 3-6 PM and 9-10 PM.

Please register in advance to confirm your spot.



Visual artists Marisa Gallemit and Donald Kwan and documentary filmmaker Gabriela Warrior Renaud with curator/show organizer and Possible Worlds Co-Director Melanie Yugo will provide an overview of the works in Reconstructing Selves then kick off the discussion. An open dialogue will follow. What is the relationship between place and belonging, between diasporas and memory? What is the impact of exclusionary practices on the preservation and creation of our cultures? How do we centre our intersectional experiences within the dominant culture? How do we understand and document our histories, while reshaping and reclaiming our identities and narratives, now and for the future?

This event is open to the public and PWYC (suggested $8-10). Residents and creatives of all identities, backgrounds and generations are welcome to attend.


Shanghai Restaurant is accessible by a stopgap ramp. Bathrooms are not wheelchair accessible; accessible washrooms are available down the street in the Petro Canada.

This exhibition at Possible Worlds takes place on the second-floor of a plaza and is only accessible by stairs (unfortunately there is no ramp or elevator).

Possible Worlds and Shanghai Restaurant acknowledge their locations on the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin Nation.


Marisa Gallemit

Marisa Gallemit is an Ottawa-based visual artist whose practice spans sculpture, assemblage,  site-specific installation, storytelling and arts advocacy. After studying film at Carleton  University (Ottawa) and the New York Film Academy (NYC), her focus shifted to  three-dimensional works, concentrating on organic forms and textures, using repurposed  materials, and focusing on tactile monuments to our collective and subtle human experiences.   

Motivated by the concept that every object carries its own history and energy, Gallemit  considers the selection process of materials as paramount. Found objects and discarded  artifacts are favoured as much for their visual markings of time and wear as for their  emblematic significance --either as souvenirs from a particular time period or as fossils of a  lived, emotionally-charged experience. Old things tell stories.   

Gallemit manipulates, deconstructs and distorts objects into sculptural compositions which  mimic the corporeal and the natural, inviting haptic interaction. Informed by womanhood,  motherhood and third-culture shock, she explores the odyssey of human emotion, identity  and heritage. The goal of each reconciled assemblage is to lean deeply into Buckminster Fuller’s query: “Now, how do we make this spaceship work?”

Since first showing work at a community group show in 2009, Gallemit has been fortunate to participate in storytelling and performative works, design installations for music and art festivals, and has facilitated art-making workshops, curated art programs for several Ottawa non-gallery venues, and produced a large-scale public art installation for the City of Mississauga.  



Don Kwan

Don Kwan is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in the Ottawa Valley. His artwork often examines identity, memory, how cultures come to assume the values, behaviours, and “pop culture” beliefs of other groups, as well as the conversion of culture e.g. how: food is adapted from one culture to another. Using mixed media, found objects and sourced personal and historical images of his family, his work draws inspiration from his family’s earliest tangible links to Canada, such as living through moments of Canadian history such as the Chinese Immigration Act, between 1885 -1923, known today as the Chinese Exclusion Act; the imposed Head Tax; WWI; WWII; and his experiences since 1971 in operating Shanghai Restaurant, a family-owned Chinese-Canadian restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown.


Gabriela Warrior Renaud

Gabriela Warrior Renaud is a documentary filmmaker and activist for social and climate justice. She continues her family’s legacy of storytelling, encouraging us to reconnect to our history, each other and the earth. As a queer, mixed person of colour, Gabriela explores topics that are deeply personal, in the hopes of humanizing and shedding light on issues that continue to affect many of us and yet still feel overwhelmingly pushed in the dark. Her current documentary project Hyphen was born out her own desire to feel whole within a fragmented identity. Building a narrative around the mixed experience, Gabriela was able to find the grounding she was seeking, and is humbly reclaiming her South Indian heritage. Her work has been shown, among others, at the Mirror Mountain Film Festival in Ottawa and the World Film Festival in Montreal, where she won Best Local Film and Best Experimental Film, respectively. She is an active member of the artistic community in Ottawa, working to make our spaces diverse and sustainable.



Melanie Yugo

Melanie Yugo is an educator, organizer and artist. She has a multidisciplinary practice that focuses on collaboration, community and activating cultural life in the public sphere, bridging independent platforms and institutions. Melanie is Co-Founder and Director of Possible Worlds, an art and music hub in Ottawa’s Chinatown, and Spins & Needles, a collective that transforms public spaces through participatory art and music experiences. As a creator rooted in printmaking, graphic art and social practice, she is interested in critically addressing and reimagining representations and narratives of the “other” within the public sphere, particularly with culturally diverse, low-income and youth communities. Melanie has exhibited, presented and programmed in North America, UK, Europe and Southeast Asia. She is a graduate of McGill University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and completed summer studies at the School of Visual Arts. Melanie is Filipina-Canadian, born in Toronto and based in Ottawa.


Instagram: @melanie.yugo