Shellie Zhang 张雪莱: Believe it or Not 信不信

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Shellie Zhang, A Sight to Behold, 2020

Believe it or Not 信不信
Shellie Zhang 张雪莱

May to July 2021
Outdoor installation, various locations

Believe it or Not is a new solo exhibition by Shellie Zhang. In 2019, Zhang was invited by AKA to visit Saskatoon for a research residency. The residency led her to focus on the sites, visuals, and stories of historical enactments; their effectiveness, their intended audience and their role in disseminating historical narratives. The exhibition presents three new bodies of work and an outdoor billboard that examine fallacies Zhang observed within the historical fiction framework, definitions of what constitutes heritage and commemoration, the politics of believability and the complex process of contending with the present by learning from the past.


Shellie Zhang (b. 1991, Beijing, China) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. By uniting both past and present iconography with the techniques of mass communication, language and sign, Zhang explores the contexts and construction of a multicultural society by disassembling approaches to tradition, gender, the diaspora and popular culture. She creates images, objects and projects in a wide range of media to explore how integration, diversity and assimilation is implemented and negotiated, and how manifestations of these ideas relate to lived experiences. Zhang is interested in how culture is learned and sustained, and how the objects and iconographies of culture are remembered and preserved.

Zhang has exhibited at venues including WORKJAM (Beijing), Asian Art Initiative (Philadelphia) and Gallery 44 (Toronto). She is a recipient of grants such as the Toronto Arts Council’s Visual Projects grant, the Ontario Arts Council’s Visual Artists Creation Grant and the Canada Council’s Project Grant to Visual Artists. She is a member of EMILIA-AMALIA, a feminist reading and writing group. In 2017, She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 2021, she was a recipient of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Artist Award. Her work has been published in Canadian Art, the Toronto Star, Blackflash Magazine, CBC Arts, and C Magazine. Recent and upcoming projects include exhibitions at AKA Artist-Run (Saskatoon), the Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska) and the plumb (Toronto). Zhang works with Patel Brown Gallery.

Thank You

Alexis Kienlen
Dave Smith at SignSmith
Dr. Ashleigh Androsoff
Doreen Kienlen
Harris Ford
Gayle Ye
Jeff O’Brien and Ken Dahl at the City of Saskatoon Archives
jenn chan
Mary Ellen at Saskatoon Public Library Local History
Mavin Wong
Respectfulchild
Stephanie Jeanes at the Moose Jaw Library
Tarin Hughes and Derek Sandbeck at AKA Artist-Run
Xiao Han and Qiming Sun

This project was made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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AKA is an artist-run centre operating on Treaty Six Land that encompasses the traditional homeland of numerous First Nations, including Cree, Dene, Plains Cree, Nakota, Saulteaux, and Ojibwe, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

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