If We Say Things Simply
Phoebe Huang, Stephanie Gagne, Asia Gumgnok Jong
March 30 — May 8, 2021

March 30–May 8, 2021
Phoebe Huang & Stephanie Gagne
Curated by Asia Jong

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If we say things simply is an index of the shades of yellow and gold found along East Pender Street. Presented in the Or Gallery’s window space at 236 East Pender, the work uses colour as a framework to speak about the yearning for clarity and understanding amongst a landscape of anxiety and uncertainty in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Phoebe Huang and Stephanie Gagne contend with what it means to research, produce work, and exist in the complexities of Chinatown, both as artists and residents of the area.

Amidst Chinatown’s existence as an entangled site—one of racialized histories, unceded land, the housing and opioid crises, capital redevelopments, and mounting anti-Asian violence— Huang and Gagne grapple with how to make sense of place when at a loss for words. If we say things simply emerges out of the desire for honesty in understanding the relationship and responsibility between place and person. It suggests that, when it is too difficult to speak, it may first be better to feel.

Accompanying the window installation is a brochure guide to the yellow and gold hues indexed along Pender Street. Using historical, personal, and fictional annotations, the brochure reveals new lines-of-sight that show previously unseen pathways through herbal stores and wet alleys. Navigating this sensory experience of colour asks for presentness and grounding in the body when feeling the paralyzing confluence of remnant past, turbulent present, and uncertain future.

Yellow and gold—colours rich in symbolic meaning (centeredness, prosperity, hope, abundance) and cultural coding (yellow peril, golden mountain)—give hints to a range of complex conditions, emotions, and predictions against the backdrop of Chinatown. Through a lexicon of yellow and gold, Huang and Gagne remind us “to find abundance and hope when we feel distant, overwhelmed, and when we don’t know where to start.”


Phoebe Huang (Huang: 黄, yellow) is an interdisciplinary maker currently residing and working on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. She was the 2018 BMO 1st Art! regional winner in BC and has shown work through the Capture Photography Festival, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, and Audain Gallery amongst others. Huang received her BFA from Simon Fraser University.

Stephanie Gagne (Gagne: win, get gold) is a visual artist living and working on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Her interests include popular culture, sexuality, neighbourhoods, and childhood nostalgia. Gagne’s interdisciplinary projects involve photography, sculpture, drawing, and video. She received a BFA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University and an MFA in interdisciplinary studies from Simon Fraser University.

Asia Gumgnok Jong (Gumgnok: gold and jade) is a curator and arts facilitator based on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories, also known as Vancouver. She co-runs Ground Floor Art Centre, a collective that supports early emerging artists and operates through the values of care, hospitality, and a positive approach to failure. Her writing has featured in ArtAsiaPacific and she was a participant in Para Site Hong Kong’s 2020 Workshops for Emerging Arts Professionals. Concurrent with If we say things simply, Jong has curated Rina Lyshaug’s exhibition Chiasmus at Ground Floor, as part of Capture Photography Festival 2021.

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Or Gallery

236 E Pender St.
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6A 1T7

T. +1 604.683.7395
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Gallery hours 12 - 5PM
Tuesday - Saturday

Free Admission