Acting, Visual Arts
LEARNING EXPERIENCE WITH JAMII
“As an emerging artist who has been working with Jamii, I can proudly say that it has opened doors to new learning and working experiences for me.
I work as an actor and visual artist; Jamii has connected me with artistic mural projects and acting experiences in the community of The Esplanade these past few months.
I have been supported as an actor as they have given me a space to shoot my own self-tape auditions, as well as supporting me with the camera, angles, and extra person reading the script. It helps me because it results in my self-tapes to look more professional and well done.
Through Jamii, I had the opportunity to work on 2 large-scale murals in the neighbourhood. The first was the mural working with the main artist Darwin, who is from Pikangikum, Ontario. Following his indigenous artistic style and working together with him and the other artists was a beautiful experience. I had a sense of contentment, knowing how happy the kids and their parents were, after seeing our beautiful work on the wall beside their school. This experience opened me to connecting with the other visual artists and the community, and the smiles of our neighbours.
The second mural opportunity I had through Jamii was mentoring and supporting a group of young women in their process of painting the mural. I gained some more leadership skills and was able to put my visual art skills into practice, as I also helped them paint the wall of the hydro box. I learned a lot being in the leadership support role. It provided a sense of belonging, support, and a good feeling after creating a more positive and colourful space in the area. I had the chance to paint a sea creature, an Axelotl, which is my 8 year-old niece’s favourite sea animal. She was thrilled and I was happy to see her smile!
The Wayo festival was another eye-opening project I got to work on with Jamii. The show had many different elements (literally), and such amazing and diverse artists showcasing their art through each element. It was a fantastic show to support, as I helped to print beautiful photos for families to take home after the show. I was in awe of the elemental show, and emotional too. The airy opera, the fire dances, the water instruments, the earthly music, and the powerful drums of love; all were fantastically woven together and it was an honour to both witness and help the show. It has opened my eyes to many other mediums of art, and how they can all connect together to make something great for the community.
Lastly, as an emerging artist who is helping both behind the scenes and planning to also perform for the new Jamii Shadow Puppet Theatre project in December 2023 titled Mudlark. I was very excited, nervous, and continuously learning new things through this experience. We presented the show, which we created with community, to 400 people and I had the chance to perform alongside professional artists under the artistic direction of Isorine Marc. I get to see the process of how projects start from brainstorming to becoming the real thing before my eyes. It’s interesting, busy, complicated, and also rewarding.”
Karen Lam was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She has starred in the short film "SOLITUDE" (2021) that was nominated in the NYC Film Festival, and a finalist in Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. She was also one of the actors of Jamii's Unlocked (2020). In 2023, Karen performed in Mudlark, presented to 400 spectators in David Crombie Park, produced by Jamii.