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

2014 – 2017           
Studio Assistant to Robert Fones

Toronto Arts Council Grant
(Individual) Visual Arts
Emerging Artist

2018 (Sept 6 - 21)        
the life of vanda miss joaquim
Pushmi Pullyu, Toronto, Canada

2019 (July)
The Bald Eagle’s Claw
Curated by Philip Leonard Ocampo
Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada

2019 (June)
Xpace Annual Fundraiser 2019
Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada

2019 (March-April)
One of These Things is Not Like the Other
Pamila Matharu and Sister Co-Resister
Curated by Vicky Moufawad-Paul
A Space Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2018 (Nov) 
VSVSVS Studios, Toronto, Canada

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

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

2018 (June)
Xpace Annual Fundraiser 2018
Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada

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

2018 (Jan)
Come Up To My Room 2018  
Curated by Vince Rozario in collaboration with Sister Co-Resister 
The Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, Canada

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, Canada

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, Canada

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

2017 (May)
Xpace Annual Fundraiser 2017
Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada

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, Canada

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

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

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


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.

In 2014, Chang was Governor General Award-winning Artist and Writer Robert Fones’ studio assistant for his solo show at Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto, Canada. Under his mentorship, Chang was tremendously influenced by his painting practice. She continued to assist him for his Retrospective Show Signs, Forms, Narratives at Museum London, Canada, in 2017. Chang received her BFA in Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, Canada, in 2015.

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, Toronto, Canada, that opened in September 2018. Chang has shown work in numerous group exhibitions across Canada including Toronto, Montreal and Saskatoon.

artist statement

Yan Wen Chang spent her teenage years growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before moving to Toronto, Canada, at 17 years of age. Chang’s text-based paintings are informed by autobiographical experiences of addressing her personal experiences of her own as well as her father’s and mother’s American Dreams. Chang’s paintings are beautiful and painful. They are poetic, but, as in poetry, where missing words and punctuation allow for interpretation or misinterpretation, gaps in the work recall loss of memory as well as uncertainty for the future.

Chang uses texts found in her surroundings in the neighbourhood where she resides in Parkdale, Toronto. Using signage of local bars and grocery stores in Parkdale, Chang highlights the importance of these meeting spaces where individuals who struggle with addiction and displacement come together as a community to meet and take care of each other. In addition, Chang utilizes her personal written texts to overlap and overlay the found texts. While these personal texts in her paintings are metaphors for her experiences in life of erasure, memory and addiction, Chang uses animals such as the horse, swan, and Malaysian Moon Moth, as well as flora indigenous to her home of Malaysia as symbols of fragility, escape, and freedom.

Chang traditionally uses a colour palette of only black, red, blue and white. After six years of using this palette, she returns to using a variety of colours for her work in The Bald Eagle’s Claw. The bold colours set an intensity that describes the fantasy and dream-like quality of the work to mimic the saturated colours of anime books and films. The colourful gradient of backgrounds and texts, as they float in space, set a surreal quality of her work that depicts Chang’s vivid description of her and her father’s dreams and narratives that she recalls – which can be described as beautiful but unreal and as such, improbable. Obsessed with the narrative of the race between the Russians and the Americans to reach the moon first, Chang uses this piece of history to explore the idea of the infinite, limitless and endless possibilities of romanticized dreams.

Looking up into space at night gives Chang hope and a childlike faith in possibilities that were incepted into her mind as a young age by her father’s American dream. Looking up into space once more, Chang asks the viewers to revise one of life’s basic truths of the American Dream – that they made us believe we could escape.