Arts & Culture

Richmond artist gets 2020 residency

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:12 PDT, Mon March 30, 2020

Last Updated: 1:54 PDT, Fri April 17, 2020

Russna Kaur grew up surrounded by colour—and that’s evident in her work.

One of eight artists chosen by the Burrard Arts Foundation for its 2020 residency program, the Richmond resident lives in one of the city’s live/work spaces for artists. She is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and Emily Carr University.

Kaur grew up in a Punjabi household full of colour. Her mother worked from home, designing Indian bridal wear.

The variety of textiles and textures inspired Kaur, whose work combines many different materials.

“I use acrylic, and oil, and sometimes spray paint. I also mix in wax or things like sawdust, cut pieces of paper, cut canvas,” she says.

“I often felt growing up that I didn’t have much of a voice of my own,” Kaur explains. “For me, that aspect of my life has definitely impacted my work because it’s important for me to assert myself in a space through my paintings, make myself big through these bold, large-scale, colourful works.”

Residents of the Burrard Arts Foundation occupy studio spaces for 10 weeks at a time, then show their work in exhibitions. Kaur doesn’t have concrete plans for her residency yet, although she hopes to experiment with new materials and a new approach.

“I don’t want to get caught up in doing the same thing or painting in the same way,” she says. “I always want to be pushing and challenging myself to consider materials and colour.”

Kaur loves the freedom of being an artist. 

“There’s no right or wrong, there’s no formula, it’s very much that you make it whatever you’d like it to be.”

When it comes to her own process, she likes to push boundaries. 

“I always try to make myself slightly uncomfortable in the studio,” says Kaur. “The experimental approach is really important to my process. Sometimes I like to have a plan, but I still like to feel like there’s lots of figuring out to do.”

After her pieces are finished, Kaur says the process of exhibiting and getting feedback is exciting.

“Once the work is up in a gallery or any public space, in a way you lose control. You have an idea of what your work is, but after people have looked at it and talked about it, they can point out things that you didn’t see, and it fuels your practice as well as getting feedback and critique,” she says. “When our work is finally out there in the world, it’s interesting to hear what comes back.”

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this year’s launch event was cancelled, and residencies and exhibitions have been postponed. Kaur's residency is now scheduled to begin in June, and her exhibition is scheduled for August.

For more on the Burrard Arts Foundation, find them online at

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