Yan Wen Chang (b. 1993) is a visual artist living and working in Toronto, Canada. Chang grew up in Singapore and Malaysia before moving to Toronto in 2011. Her text-based paintings and installations are informed by autobiographical experiences of piecing together her cultural hybridity.

Her recent work features local plants found in Singapore and Malaysia, including the Venus Fly Trap, Pitcher Plant, Hibiscus (the national flower of Malaysia), and Orchid. She chose these plants based on their natural environments, which are hard climates where few to no other normal plants can thrive. The title of Chang’s first upcoming solo show The Life of Vanda Miss Joaquim (which is the national orchid of Singapore) is used as a metaphor for her own life. The local nature in Singapore and Malaysia in her work is used as a playful and wholesome signifier of her memories of home, which is contrasted with both found and personal texts. These texts are overlaid and overlapped as a way of investigating her personal trauma and recovery through her attempts at defining her identity in a foreign country.

Using only black and white with the selective use of red, Chang’s paintings become dramatic with the intense contrast of colours. Like the texts in the paintings used as metaphors for her experiences in life, she additionally employs chains, chain-link fence and barbed wire in her installations as symbols of imprisonment and entrapment. As a further contrasting dimension, preserved butterflies often appear in Chang’s installations as symbols of fragility, escape, and freedom.

Chang was recently a recipient of the Emerging Artist Visual Art grant from the Toronto Arts Council for her first solo show The Life of Vanda Miss Joaquim at Pushmi Pullyu, 703 College St, Toronto, opening in September 2018.


2011 – 2015            
BFA in Drawing and Painting
Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, ON

2014 – 2017           
Studio Assistant to Robert Fones

Toronto Arts Council Grant
(Individual) Visual Arts
Emerging Artist

2018 (Sept)         
The Life of Vanda Miss Joaquim
Pushmi Pullyu, Toronto

2018 (Aug)
I was uncategorical, and so, defiant
Curated by Lucas Regazzi
AKA Artist Run Centre, Saskatoon

2018 (July)
GIFC (Got It For Cheap) Toronto
Hosted by Andre Ethier
The Costume House, Toronto

2018 (June)
Xpace Annual Fundraiser 2018 
Xpace, Toronto

2018 (March-April)
The Architecture of Care
Curated by Marjan Verstappen and Genevieve Wallen from Younger than Beyonce Gallery, Toronto
Installed at Margin of Eras Gallery, Toronto

2018 (Jan)
Come Up To My Room 2018  
Curated by Vince Rozario in collaboration with SISTER CO-RESISTER 
The Gladstone Hotel, Toronto

2017 (Sept)          
Andre Ethier, Adrienne Kammerer, Laura Dawe, Luis Mora, Mark Puchala, Mike Chmil, Nick Bierk, Omar Lalani, Robert Kenney, Sylvain Beaudry, Tyler Armstrong, Yan Wen Chang
165 Geary Ave, Toronto

2017 (July)
Billion Questions
Virgil Baruchel, Nick Bierk, Yan Wen Chang, Oreka James, Ash Sutton-Davis, Destiny Grimm, Spencer Hatch, Omar Lalani, curated by Omar Lalani
490 college, Toronto

2017 (May)
Tyler Armstrong, Sylvain Beaudry, Yan Wen Chang, Ash Sutton-Davis, Yishuan Lee, Aabid Youssef
490 college, Toronto

2017 (May)
Xpace Annual Fundraiser 2017
Xpace, Toronto

2017 (Apr-May)
No creature can learn that which his heart has no shape to hold
Bryan Bowie, Yan Wen Chang, Chad Gauthier, Scott Waters
Wil Kucey Gallery, Toronto

2016 (Dec)
Girls' Art League (GAL) Third Annual Art Auction Fundraiser 2016
Xpace, Toronto

2016 (Sept-Oct)       
What Would The Community Think?
Curated by Emily Gove
Xpace, Toronto

2016 (July-Aug)       
Fresh Paint/New Construction 2016
Art Mûr, Montreal