Ken Lum

Ken LumMFA in Visual Art, 1985

Ken Lum graduated in 1985 with a Master of Fine Arts from UBC.

Lum’s teaching career at UBC began in 1990 where he was a Full Professor and Head of the MFA program from 2000 to 2006. He was also a Graduate Professor at Bard College in New York from 2005 to 2007. Lum has co-curated several large scale historical and contemporary art exhibitions, including Shanghai Modern: 1919–1945 (2005), which opened in the Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, and the 7th Sharjah Biennale of Art (2005), Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. He is the co-founder and founding editor of Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. Currently, Lum is working on several large permanent public art commissions as well as various private gallery exhibitions.

When asked about his experience at UBC as a student, Lum says, “My years at UBC were formative. In those days, the Fine Arts Department was rather conservative and insulated, but the campus was and is much more than any one department. My own studies were enhanced by the studio provided and the Fine Arts Library. I also attended many guest lectures in a range of departments.” He notes that several very good friends are currently professors at UBC and he maintains regular contact with them.

Lum’s advice for incoming students to the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory is to “remember that the world is a lot bigger, more complex and contradictory than what one learns in AHVA or any other department.  Another word of advice is to remember that sometimes form and content appear as opposites.” He also urges graduating students to always keep in mind the terms “realpolitik” and “subject position,” as “the world is often harsh and the real challenge is to somehow maintain ideals in the face of this harshness. It is important for students to remember where they come from and where they are situated in the context of others in the world.  Such self-understanding should never be separated from a curiosity and love for others, particularly others less advantaged.”