June 22 – August 18, 2024

Gwenyth Chao

symbionts of capitalist ruin

Reception + Artist Talk: SATURDAY, June 22nd at 5pm


  • Hands in the Dirt with Gwenyth Chao – Thursday, June 20th – Drop-in (1-3PM)
  • Ingestible Papermaking with Gwenyth Chao – Sunday, June 23 – Registration Required (1-3PM) 

symbionts of capitalist ruin is an ongoing project by Gwenyth Chao where she reimagines the bodies and ecologies that may emerge in a time following our climate emergency. The exhibition features new sculptural work since the series began in 2022. Many of the earlier symbiont bodies have aged and decayed in response to its surroundings, yet Chao embraces this break down as an ever-growing process of becoming-with. Leading up to the exhibition, Chao is an artist-in-residence at Coppermoss and will be learning with the human and non-human ecologies in the community of Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast.

The materials Chao works with is found at the edge of our kitchen cutting boards and backyard green bin. In her process she gathers onion skins, fruit peels and other food refuse from her neighbourhood and local community to reconstitute into artmaking materials. Garlic peel paper, carrot skin clay, xanthan putties, and gelatin rope are only some of the materials created in her studio. Borrowing techniques like 3D printing, pastry cake decorating and crocheting to work with her biomaterials, Chao’s experimental practice questions how bringing multiple materials and processes together can create relations that give rise to new concepts.

Living in a climate emergency means bodies – ours and others – are increasingly relational and entangled. Post-exhibition, some symbiont bodies will be buried and laid to rest where they will decompose and feed the microbes living inside the earth to reciprocate the energies that cultivated our food. In this gesture, Chao is asking us to allow the dominant ways of thinking to decompose so that we may have a chance to reconsider the world through a hybrid experimental lens that can exist outside of capitalist gain.

Gwenyth Chao (b. Toronto/ Tkaronto, Canada) has degrees from the University of Guelph (BA) and Emily Carr University of Art + Design (MFA). Her research praxis asks: how can art be a portal to potential futures that offer alternate ways of knowing through material engagements? How would such reworlding destabilize systems of how knowledge is constructed, valued, and transmitted? Driven by an awareness of experimental possibility, Chao’s recent projects explore how material reconstitution can be informed by an ecological awareness and how transdisciplinary processes can generate new ways of knowing. Her research-creation praxis is funded by the Ontario, British Columbia, and Canada Arts Councils as well as the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council. She teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and works between New York, Toronto and Vancouver. Learn more about her work at and @ponderare.