KPU ceramics exhibit at
Historic Joy Kogawa House

Historic Joy Kogawa House

1450 West 64th Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6P 2N4

Joy Kogawa House

KPU ceramics exhibit at Historic Joy Kogawa House

What began as an assignment in Greg Chan's ENGL 2301: Canadian Literature in English class in the fall of 2019 developed into a partnership with Ying-Yueh Chuang's Fine Arts students that became a gallery showcase in the KPU Library. Endowed by KPU, a portion of that exhibit is now a permanent installation at Historic Joy Kogawa House known as "Symbolizing Obasan."

Exhibit Brochure Art Book

The optional assignment had Canadian literature students studying Joy Kogawa's Obasan pair up with a Ceramics/Open Studio student to create an art piece that brought a key symbol from the novel to life. (Other participating students worked on symbols from Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony, Sharon Pollock's The Komagata Maru Incident, and Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes). While the English students analyzed the meaning of each symbol and wrote explications, their Fine Arts counterparts created the physical object. For research, the English and Fine Arts students embarked on a field trip to Historic Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver's Marpole neighbourhood, where they were hosted by its executive director, Ann-Marie Metten, its education coordinator, Joan Shigeko Young, and special guest Diana Morita Cole, a Japanese-American citizen who was incacerated in Idaho's Minidoka Relocation Center in her childhood.

This interdisciplinary collaboration had students travelling between the literature classroom, the ceramics studio, and Kogawa House throughout the semester.

English 2301 Class

A Disruption

Co-curated by English and Fine Arts, this exhibit features collaborative displays created by students English 2301: Canadian Literature and Fine Arts: Ceramics II, Ceramics III, and Open Studio 4300 students exploring the theme of Canadian identity from the perspectives and lived experiences of the cultural other. The exhibition, an integration of ceramics and literary analysis, articulates select parts of Canadian colonial history that resist the myth of Canada's multiculturalism: its involvement in the Atlantic slave trade; its refusal of migrant South Asians aboard the Komagata Maru; its internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II; and its discriminatory laws—Head Tax and Exclusion Act—that profiled Chinese Canadians. The 16 displays contest the erasure or sanitization of narratives that document these "maple-washed "incidents in Canadian history. Serving as the inspiration for the displays are four works of Canadian literature: Joy Kogawa's Obasan, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes, Sharon Pollack's The Komagata Maru Incident, and Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony. Each English 2301 student partnered with Ceramics II or III student to focus on bringing a pivotal symbol from one of the literary works to life.

Maple-Washing: A Disruptions runs from December 19, 2019 to January 24, 2020.


  • Zafer Ahmed
  • Sukhjeet Atwal
  • Jasmin Chahil
  • Celesta De Roo
  • Charmaine Anne Detruz
  • Dominique Gonzaga
  • Helen Hoang
  • Kacey Hughes
  • Samuel Iarkov
  • Kaitlin Kantilas
  • Kassidy Kaszonyi
  • Sean Kirk
  • Yolanda Leung
  • Zoe Leung
  • Molly Livingston
  • Kason Liu
  • Murasaki Liu
  • Dewina Luechtefeld
  • Magan Magan
  • Jaskaran Mahil
  • Amiel Mendoza
  • Shahnaz Mohammadi
  • Leila Nicar
  • Adeline Ren
  • Amiee Risby
  • Charayah Romo
  • Leah D. Rosehill
  • Miranda Russell
  • Sharandeep Sandhu
  • Kiran Sangha
  • Cassandra St. Godard
  • Timothy Troupe
  • Kelly M. Yorke

Instructors and Curators

  • Greg Chan, English
  • Ying-Yueh Chuang, Fine Arts


  • Alan Davis, President and Vice-Chancellor
  • Diane Purvey, Dean of Arts
  • Robert Dearle, English Department Chair

In December of 2019, the students installed the exhibit—16 displays in all—in the atrium of the KPU Library and hosted a launch event attended by special guests from the Kogawa House and the university community. During "Maple-Washing: A Disruption," Greg Chan spoke with Ann-Marie Metten about the possibility of having the Obasan pieces appear at the Kogawa House. With support from the Dean Diane Purvey from the Faculty of Arts, the Chair of the English Department Robert Dearle, and President Alan Davis, the five Obasan-themed pieces were endowed to the Historic Joy Kogawa House. Greg Chan, Ying-Yueh Chuang, and student assistant Leah Rosehill installed them in the fall of 2020. Upon entering the heritage site, Kacey Hughes and Sean Kirk's "Silent Treatment" faces you in the sunroom. Moving into the living room, Leah Rosehill and Molly Livingston's "Kodomo no tame" rests atop the piano; once in the dining room, Charayah Romo and Jaskaran Mahil's "Stony Lives" occupies the dining table; and in Joy's bedroom are Leila Nicar and Kassidy Kaszonyi's "Trembling Bodies" on the windowsill and Murasaki's Liu and Dewina Luechtefeld's "It Is Better to Forget" on the shelf.

KPU is indebted to Historic Joy Kogawa House's Executive Director, Ann-Marie Metten, and the inspiration behind the entire project: Joy Kogawa.

For more information on this exhibition, please contact Greg Chan at