Ken Lum (he/him) is known for his conceptual and representational art in a number of media, including painting, sculpture and photography. A longtime professor, he currently is the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design in Philadelphia. He previously taught at the University of British Columbia, Bard College, and the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris.
A co-founder and founding editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, he is a prolific writer with numerous published articles, catalogue essays and juried papers. In 2000, he worked as co-editor of the Shanghai Biennale catalog. As well, Lum has presented keynote addresses at the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics world conference in 2022 held in Philadelphia, the Becoming Public Art conference held in Markham, Ontario in 2020, the inauguration of the Melly Project Space in 2020 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the 2010 World Museums Conference held at the Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, the third conference accompanying the 15th Biennale of Sydney in Sydney, Australia in 2006 and the Universities Art Association of Canada conference held in Vancouver in 1997. As an artist, he has a long and active art exhibition record of over 30 years, including major exhibitions such as Documenta 11, the Venice Biennale, Sao Paolo Bienal, Shanghai Biennale, Carnegie Triennial, Sydney Biennale, Busan Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, Moscow Biennial, Whitney Biennial, among others. In 2019, Lum completed a feature length screenplay dealing with comparative racism in post-civil war America.
Lum has also been involved in co-conceiving and co-curating several large scale exhibitions including Shanghai Modern: 1919 – 1949, an exhibition about the art, culture and politics of Shanghai during the first republican period of China after the demise of the Qing Dynasty, and to which he contributed an essay on the policy of aesthetic education in China’s first modern art school; Sharjah Biennial 2007: Belonging, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, a groundbreaking exhibition to which he contributed an essay on the subject of identity formation without foundations, and the NorthWest Annual in Seattle. He is co-curator of Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project, a city-wide art public art exhibition in Philadelphia in 2017. The exhibition dealt with the ways in which space is engaged in terms of a city’s monumental landscape. The aim of Monument Lab is to better understand the mechanisms of memorialization by questioning the status of the monument in the context of its canonical disposition. The exhibition was widely reviewed and praised as well as become a referent for other cities in dealing with the problems of controversial monuments and statues.
Lum holds an honorary doctorate from his undergraduate alma mater, Simon Fraser University. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Hnatynshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award and is a Penn Institute of Urban Research Fellow. In late 2017, Lum was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada. For Monument Lab, he was co-receiver of a Knight Foundation grant along with Paul Farber. In 2018, he was granted a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. He was awarded a Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 2019 and a Canada Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2020. He is the 2023 winner of the Scotiabank Photography Prize.