Wy Joung Kou is a queer, chronically ill, multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. With a body of work spanning mosaic art, poetry, sound, movement, performance, video, and installation, their work is often inextricable from queer, disabled, diasporic narratives. Grounded in a disability justice framework centering accessibility, community and interdependence, their artistic practice is interwoven with personal narratives of grief, care, and intimacy.
Kou’s educational trajectory as a professional artist has followed a path combining mentorship and community-models of learning, skill exchange, and collaborative process. As a mosaic artist, they consider themselves a poet turned visual-tactile storyteller. Their stories are ones told in languages of colour, texture, grit, and feeling. Since 2015, Kou has worked with the Red Dress Productions team on multiple large-scale mosaic works installed permanently in indoor and outdoor Toronto/GTA locations, including a 16 foot long mosaic mural of their own design at Street Health (2018). Kou’s independent mosaic work has exhibited in establishments such as Tangled Arts & Disability Gallery, The Gladstone Hotel, Critical Distance Gallery and the ArQuives.
Kou grew up in Ottawa (ON) where they had the privilege to cultivate a movement repertoire rooted in over a decade of formal training as a competitive figure skater, all-star cheerleader, dancer and Taekwon-Do black belt. Their professional ventures in movement and performance now lie mainly in taiko drumming as a member of RAW – Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers. As an apprentice from 2017-2019 and a member as of 2020, their participation in RAW is centered around performance, creation, and education. They have also taken to the stage as a writer, reading their poetry at events including Naked Heart Festival, Unruly Bodies, and Bricks & Glitter Festival. They have been writing poetry since their youth and began printing and distributing their first DIY (zine) poetry chapbook “Tigressbalm” in 2018.
Kou is the founder and organizer of the Sick & Disabled Queer Zine Fair (2018-2019) as well as an Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency alum. They were the inaugural winner of the JRG Grant for Artist with Disabilities (2018), and have been the recipient of multiple Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts grants.
- “All You Can Hold” – Commissioned mosaic work for the North York Women’s Shelter (January 2020)
- UNDAUNTED: Into The Open – Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers in concert at Betty Oliphant Theatre (December 2019)
- Access is Love and Love is Complicated – Critical Distance Gallery (October 2019)
- Inkling Symposium – Virtual poetry reading at Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (April 2019)