Karen Tam lives and works in Montréal. She holds an MFA in Sculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths (University of London). Her research focuses on the various ways in which cultures and communities are constructed and imagined, using installations that recreate the spaces of Chinese restaurants, karaoke lounges, opium dens, curio shops and other sites of cultural encounters. She questions how the corporeal experience of space allows one to understand its history and community. Using a cultural studies framework, she invites a critical view of contemporary chinoiserie, the impact of the Chinese export trade, and goods produced for ‘Western’ tastes.
She has exhibited her work since 2000 and participated in residencies in North America, Europe, and China, including the Deutsche Börse Residency at the Frankfurter Kunstverein (Germany), Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Canada), and CUE Art Foundation (USA). She was a finalist for the Prix Louis-Comtois in 2017 from the Contemporary Art Galleries Association and the Ville de Montréal, a finalist for the Prix en art actuel from the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec in 2016, and long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2016 and 2010. Her works are in museum, corporate, and private collections in Canada, United States, and United Kingdom.