Presenting our home and SUM gallery

SUM gallery produces, presents and exhibits with a curatorial vision favouring challenging, thought-provoking multidisciplinary work that pushes boundaries and initiates dialogue. We began as Pride in Art, founded by Two-Spirit artist and activist Robbie Hong in 1998. In 2008 Pride in Art mounted the first Queer Arts Festival. In 2018, SUM opened as a permanent space, presenting year-round multidisciplinary exhibitions and events that further the artistic vision of the Queer Arts Festival. SUM brings diverse communities together to support artistic risk-taking, incite creative collaboration and experimentation, and celebrate the rich heritage of queer artists and art.

SUM is located on the traditional, unceded territory of the Coast Salish people, in particular the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh). We recognize their sovereignty, as there are no treaties on these lands, and we are dedicated to building right relations based on respect and consent.

In collaboration with, and taking our lead from Downtown Eastside (DTES) and Chinatown-based arts organizations, artists, and community agencies, we counteract established power imbalances of privilege in the arts. By opening permanent space within the BC Artscape Sun Wah art hub, we have increased capacity to support exceptional Two-Spirit and QTIPOC artists, including those who live, work and find meaning in their art practices here in the DTES and Chinatown. These communities have always been a significant part of our staff, board, and organizational vision.

We are aware of the histories, resilience, and ongoing challenges of Chinatown, and of our responsibility to work as part of this community to resist further displacement of the local Chinese-Canadian population. Being part of this community requires constant reflection on our choices as an organization, and we invite input from members of the community as we learn.

Today, SUM is the only queer-mandated gallery in Canada. We look forward to showcasing this work in community and artistic partnerships as a publicly-accessible space.

We chose the name SUM to honour the space’s originally intended use as a Dim Sum (點心) restaurant on the fourth floor of the Sun Wah building. Unfortunately the floor was never occupied and has remained in shell condition until now. For those familiar with Chinatown, you might recognize the traditional round window on Keefer Street.

The name SUM has additional layers:

  • summation ∑ the sum of its parts, the sum total = 2SLGBTQIA+
  • Sum 心 means heart in the Cantonese dialect, to pay tribute to the early immigrants from the Pearl River Delta in Canton who settled here 150 years ago
  • In Cantonese words for queer folks also include the Sum 心 character

The inaugural exhibition at SUM Gallery, QueerSUM心, exhibited work by artist Karin Lee, a unique artist whose critical voice and perspective touches on the past and the present, both local and international.
QueerSUM 心 co-curators Paul Wong and SD Holman: “We wanted the first solo exhibition to be local, Chinese, female-identified, queer, exceptional. We wanted an artist with deep links to Vancouver’s Chinese and queer communities both, we wanted a woman whose work was challenging and transgressive and very queer – in other words, we wanted Karin Lee, a local artist who is 4th generation Chinese Canadian.”

Pride in Art Society Office
& SUM Gallery

268 Keefer Street – Suite 425

Vancouver, BC, V6A 1X5 Canada

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Gallery hours: TuesdaySaturday 12-6pm, closed Sunday, Monday and statutory holidays.