Artist Jay Cabalu feels safe among peers

Artist Jay Cabalu participated in”Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements” exhibit ( February 1- April 18) (Photo: Sean Alistair)

Jay Cabalu

“Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements”

That’s a wrap on “Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements”! I was honoured to be included in the same space as these three artists. For many years I’ve looked up to Kendell Yan, Jen Sungshine and David Ng, thinking I wanted to be like all of them in some way. Thank you to all of you and to everyone at SUM Gallery for providing this space— I’ve never felt this safe to express myself. We capped the exhibition off yesterday with a live stream with Paul Wong who has blazed a path for so many queer Asian artists. I wish I could tell my depressed self in 2016, that this would be happening 4 years later and to not worry so much. I love you all!

So much of what I’ve been afraid of in my career is that I would be perceived as a bad person. I’ve felt like if I expressed myself in an honest and assertive way or discussed the petty emotions behind some of my work that I would be putting a target on my back. I would be called difficult, entitled, or a diva, and prove harmful stereotypes about queers and Asians correct. We all have these tendencies, but when we make mistakes we’re not just human, we’re the villain. That’s a really shitty thing that we do, we make it hard, emotionally and economically, for marginalized people to succeed in the world, and then punish them when they demand respect. I’m so grateful for Yellow Peril, both past and present, for helping me realize this.

Thank you to everyone who has been following this exhibition and for listening to our stories. Please keep the Yellow Peril legacy alive and if you hear racism towards Asian people during this pandemic, address it and do your part to create these safer spaces for all of us.

“Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements” is a visual art exhibit inspired by the Chinese Five Elemental forces, seized by the urgent tensions between Queer Chinese diasporic identities. A collection of multichannel installations, visual and sculptural activations provoke a cosmic encounter of our living past and present as we ‘race’ towards a healing future. These elemental activations attempt to collapse the linear temporality to dislodge an emotional, spiritual, cosmological, and metaphysical enunciation of our Queer ‘Chineseness’. Rather than focus on the trauma that queer people of colour face, this project is fundamentally an invitation to an exuberant celebration of queerness that is unabashedly Chinese.

Jay Cabalu (Facebook)










“Blue Jboi”, hand-cut collage on panel, 18” x 24”, 2020

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