Championing local artists; channeling global perspectives.

Named one of 2023s Culture Shifters by HuffPost and hailed as a “polymath wave-maker” and “a pioneer of art that is interactive, collaborative, and as much fun for viewers as it is for artists,” Jenny Lam is a critically and publicly acclaimed self-taught award-winning multidisciplinary artist, artist agent, independent curator, writer, troublemaker, [pre-pandemic] globetrotting polyglot, former precocious child, current child at heart, INTJ, and all-around nerd.

The Chicago-born Chinese American daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong, she graduated from Columbia University in New York City, where she was the President of Postcrypt Art Gallery, a student-run organization that served as the only space dedicated to the exhibition of undergraduate art at Columbia, providing young artists and curators with opportunities regardless of their involvement with the school’s Visual Arts Department. After earning her BA, she returned to the Windy City, where she founded Artists on the Lam in 2011. The site for this enterprise, which garnered an international following, was voted Best Local Visual Arts Blog in the Chicago Readers Best of Chicago issue.

With a mission to make art accessible and a vision to bring people together, she has independently curated interactive shows like the groundbreaking—and rule-breakingexhibition I CAN DO THAT, which featured artists from all over the world and was voted the audience choice for Best Art Exhibit in the 20th anniversary edition of NewCitys Best of Chicago issue in 2012. Such imaginative exhibitions not only challenged guests to think beyond common misconceptions about art and step outside their comfort zones, but also broke barriers, built community, inspired people to see the world anew, and demonstrated that art is for everyone.

Her own artequally as thought-provoking and community-focused as her curatorial workhas been exhibited at places like the Chicago Cultural Center and the Chicago Public Library. A lifelong artist who has been drawing for as long as she can remember, she is the 1st Prize Winner of the National Park Services Centennial Project. She is also the creator of Dreams of a City, an ongoing city-wide participatory public art and mapping project for which she was awarded the Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicagos Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Exploring the effects of geographical boundaries while finding connections, amplifying different voices, and bridging the distances between us, she originated this data-driven postcard project in 2008 in Manhattan and revitalized it a few years later in Chicago, where it continues to this day as a labor of love, a love letter to the city, and a message of hope.

Jenny has curated exhibitions at venues like the renowned Zhou B Art Center and guest judged shows at galleries like Line Dot Editions and Water Street Studios. She has served as the Head of 4Art Inc. Gallery, and she has written extensively for Time Out and Sixty Inches from Center and been published in the graphic novel anthology New Frontiers. She has been a guest speaker at University of Illinois Chicago, given a Leonardo LASER Talk about resilience, and spoken at Facebook Chicago about media representation, at Startup Art Fair about What Matters,” and on a panel about Writing in the Margins,” building platforms for folks whose work doesnt adhere to mainstream arts narratives; performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and 20x2 Chicagoconducted Visiting Artist Workshops at the Chicago Children’s Museum; conducted portfolio reviews at Harold Washington LibraryGet Archived event, which empowered artists with the opportunity to take ownership of their place in [their] citys cultural historyand been featured in the political documentary Transition to Power and on PBSPetaPixel, FstoppersCharacter Media, AsAmNews, I Am New Generation, Women Direct, WGNWBEZ, Crain’s, South Side Weekly, DNAinfo, Block Club ChicagoChicagoist, Gapers BlockGozamos, and more.

Her photographyall shot on her iPhone 5shas been featured in exhibits around the world including the Urban Photo Awards at Trieste Photo Days in Italy and on Guardian Travel, NZ HeraldBuzzfeed, Atlas Obscura, Mashable, Matador Network, Folk Magazine, Choose Chicago, Enjoy Illinois, Hong Kong Tourism Board, RedEye, Asia Art ArchiveUntapped Cities, Tiny Atlas Quarterly, Bruxelles Art VueArtAscent Magazine, and more.

Fun facts: Jenny is her full, legal namenot Jennifer; her Chinese name is 林嘉祺 (Lam Ga Kay in Cantonese / Lin Jia Qi in Mandarin), with 嘉嘉 (Ga Ga in Cantonese / Jia Jia in Mandarin) as her family nickname; and English is technically her second languageshe taught herself English as a baby by watching Sesame Street.

In her youth, Jenny had:

founded a free English tutoring program called New Horizons for immigrant children in Chinatown at the age of 16; interned at Christie’s; volunteered as a mentor to students in Harlem; gone tagging; crammed a thousand college kids into a Brooklyn bathhouse for an underground music and multimedia festival called Collision; received complaints from OSHA for constructing a 12-ft.-tall sculpture in a stairwell; lived in Germany for a foreign exchange program, an experience slightly different from winning a trophy at a German poetry competition a few months earlier; participated in [the swimming segment of] a triathlon; bleached a jar of human teeth (and won science fairs for it); won piano competitions; had her short story Firebreath—a civil rights allegory of dragons rising up against their human oppressors—published at the age of 13; and politely declined a job offer as a storyboard artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios, telling the director she “would want to attend college first,” at the age of 8.

She can’t whistle.

Visit Jenny’s LinkedIn or/and Behance to view 85 more honors and awards.

A “polymath wave-maker,” Lam has embraced her engagement of the Chicago scene with wave-making zeal, landing in the press and in conversations for her work at the Zhou B Art Center, 4Art, and, most recently, at the Fulton Street Collective. Exquisite Corpse, the frenetic exhibit she organized for the Collective, drew notable crowds for its open embrace of artist collaboration. –Michael Workman, Writer, Gapers Block

“One of Chicago’s most impressive curators [...] A pioneer of art that is interactive, collaborative, and as much fun for viewers as it is for artists.” –Caitlin Bergh, Writer, Gapers Block

“Her drive and passion are unmatched. [...] She pursues greatness not only in herself but also in others. She is kind and generous and [is], no doubt, a force to be reckoned with. [...] She truly embodies everything that we, in the art world, need.” –Robin Monique Rios, Owner / Director, 4Art Inc. Gallery

“From the first moment [Jenny] stepped a Conversed foot into 4Art Gallery I knew [she was] special and would take the art world by storm. I’ve watched [her] learn and grow. I’ve seen [her] struggle and rise above with courage and determination. [Jenny] is an exceptional person and a dear friend.” –Robin Monique Rios, Owner / Director, 4Art Inc. Gallery, on the eve of Artists on the Lams 10th anniversary

“Ive known Jenny for [...] years after first being introduced to her curatorial work through her exhibition SOMNAMBULIST at the Zhou B Art Center. [...] I was floored by her problem-solving abilities and how she was able to pull together a striking exhibition with a mountain of challenges facing her. The exhibition at Zhou B did not have any art-ready walls which led to the exhibition of art floating in midair within a warehouse space. [...] The work that Jenny has done since always includes traces of that initial introduction. She not only has a sharp eye for cutting edge work, but she is also a charismatic and experimental curator, making her exhibitions particularly fresh and unforgettable. Whether its challenging the audience to take on the creative and technical tasks of the artist or serving as a catalyst to get artists to collaborate on new works, I have always looked forward to anything that Jenny is a part of because I know it will be of quality and captivating. [...] The same perceptiveness and vision that she applies to her curatorial practice undoubtedly carries through to her writing. She has added dozens of articles to the Sixty archives, many of which are some of the top read to date. The artists and exhibitions she has chosen to highlight over the years serves as a testament to her ability to point out some of the best artists working in our city and beyond.” –Tempestt Hazel, Co-Founder / Executive Director, Sixty Inches from Center

Jennymaking a ruckus, “Im impressed by what shes doing – creating, finding, following her own path in the Chicago art scene. Shes been on my radar since spring. A recent college graduate, shes just curated a charming show at Fulton Street Collective titled Exquisite Corpse. Expanding on the traditional notion where multiple artists work on a single piece without knowing what the other has done, shes solicited, culled, and matched 40 artists who dont know each other to collaborate on creating art. [...] The pieces are fun, multi-faceted, and engaging.” –The late great Paul Klein, Art Critic, when Jenny started out; “Weird, “An awesome human. –The late great Paul Klein, Art Critic, 5 years later

This woman is so amazing, A young and amazing art curator and artist [...] working tirelessly for representation in art who makes you want to get up and get on her level. Olivia Cole, Author

“When I first saw Jenny Lam, I knew I had to meet her. As an artist, independent curator, and overall badass, Jennys sparkling grace and exuding talent make her an inherently magnetic and unforgettable figure. Not only is Jenny brilliant, but she is probably one of the busiest artists I’ve ever encountered. Her interest in the world and people around her reveals her belief in the importance of facilitating connections between individuals through conversation or collaborative art projects—sometimes simultaneously. Eniko Deptuch Vághy, Founding Editor-in-Chief, Lover's Eye Press

A sweetheart, Jenny[s] love of art encourages others,” Jennys knack for creating situations and having people collaborate in unique ways has been eye-opening. For an artist to let a visitor come and draw or manipulate your original artwork is quite a leap. That’s the Jenny mindset. She thinks in ways that are creatively engaging. She’s embracing people artistically, intellectually, emotionally, in many ways,” “[Jenny] amplifies the voices of the unheard. –Nancy BechtolSomnambulist, I CAN DO THAT, DECAHEDRON, and HYGGE Participating Artist and LAMINATOR Vol. 1 Contributing Artist

Spanning neighborhoods, ethnicities, and mediums, SLAYSIAN showcases a subset of artists that have always been part of the citys art scene, but rarely acknowledged as a collective. [...] SLAYSIAN also examines how artists can value their identity while refusing to be pigeonholed by it. [...] Their work raises questions of what it means to inhabit spaces designed specifically for artists to grow, but where the Asian experience may still be sidelines. [...] In addition to its role in educating and engaging with the broader Chicago community, much of SLAYSIAN reflects an inward-looking conversation among Asian Americans. [...] SLAYSIAN embodies the aspiration that those at the outskirts of a society can redefine what success means for ourselves. [...] Asian American artists can now practice a freedom long enjoyed by their white peers. Instead of being locked into one narrative as victim or immigrant, their art is allowed to grow with the times. [...] The exhibition showcases the determination of individuals to find their own answers to what the role of an Asian American artist is. [...] The digital forum offers the opportunity for at-home viewers to take part in this important workto help these stories grow, evolve, and be seen. –Eileen Li, Reporter, South Side Weekly

SLAYSIAN is a beautiful exhibit, showing a wide variety of artists and media. [...] What comes across strongly in this collection is the importance of personal voice. Each artist included in Lam’s exhibit has a unique perspective and delivery method with which they share their stories. [...] Every one of the featured artists has a rich story to share and I encourage you to take a moment to sit with them, to share them. –Natasha Lowery, Co-Founder, Winters Bloom

“When Jenny Lam set out to curate SLAYSIAN, she knew it could be anything. Lam, an artist herself, had already made an impression on Chicago's art world [...] This was a show that was designed to withstand these sorts of changes. This was a show that would not only build itself on the themes that bind together the Asian American community, but also the countless personal histories of its artists and the generations that came before them. [...] She has an eye for technical proficiency. [...] She waited for a moment of kismet, the type of reaction sparked in the viewer by the artist that is so visceral and instantaneous it could best be described as chemical. –Michael WuReporter, Free Spirit Media

Jenny Lam curates interactive and compelling exhibitions that spontaneously create community, bringing people together in fun and unexpected ways. Jennifer Patiño Cervantes, Editor, Sixty Inches from Center

Im so floored [by] the APA representation and the inspirational and evocative artwork. Thank you! –@fivevirtues, SLAYSIAN Online Visitor

“Awesome event. Fantastic works, excellent variety. Wonderful training and exercise in the world of art appreciation. [LEXICON] helped visitors hone their art appreciation skills. Visitors had the unusual opportunity to explore their own interests and gain a better understanding of the kind of art they enjoy and why. It is not easy to assemble a show like this. Congratulations, Jenny Lam!” –Scott P. Wheeler, LEXICON Visitor

Im always amazed by how [Jennys] exhibitions are able to offer such high quality and meaningful themes while maintaining some of the most accessibility and least pretension Ive ever seen. Im sure artists like Kandinsky are smiling down on [her] for inspiring such intrinsic connections. S. Alex Zaman, I CAN DO THAT Visitor

I CAN DO THAT was such a great event. Fabulous opening reception. Congrats, Jenny Lam. [...] Its such an awesome interactive artistic experience. Sophia Nahli Allison, Filmmaker / Photographer

“This is the most fun Ive had at an art show ever. I CAN DO THAT Visitor

“This is like a childrens museum... but for adults. I CAN DO THAT Visitor

“Great looking art at reasonable prices. Laszlo Papp, DECAHEDRON Collector

An “amazing curator and supporter of artists and diversity in the arts. –Kristin Anahit Cass, SLAYSIAN and DECAHEDRON Participating Artist

I have so much respect for artists like Jenny Lam who pave the way, who have the courage to dig deep and open up these sorts of dialogues. –Julius Bautista, SLAYSIAN and DECAHEDRON Participating Artist

“The ultimate hype-woman for budding artists anywhere.” –Yuqing Zhu, SLAYSIAN and DECAHEDRON Participating Artist

Thank you, Jenny, for your important work. Especially during this climate. –Joyce Jodie KimSLAYSIAN Participating Artist

I have the highest respect for [Jenny] and what [she’s] doing,” “I love the fact that it makes the work so much more accessible to all. –Mary PorterfieldDECAHEDRON Participating Artist

The best in the game!” Stuart Hall, LEXICON Participating Artist

A fearless curator. –Peggy Shearn, LEXICON Participating Artist

A powerhouse. –Renee LaVerne Rose, Editor-in-Chief, ACS Magazine

A Renaissance woman. –Lester Scaife, Founder, FineCreativity

A global arts mover and shaker. –Phillip J. Turner, Artist

A marvelous curator. –Sixty Inches from Center

An “interpreter of change in 2021.
 –Art Design Chicago

“This rockstar keeps Chicagos arts/cultural scene fresh, engaging, and thriving. –Jessica Kaswiner, Organizer, Meet Your Maker

“One of the most wholesome experiences [...] was meeting Jenny Lam. She is the pinnacle of loveliness and light, and also has a really awesome project called Dreams of a City. [...] Your dreams are important, and Jennys project warmly recognizes that, The minute I met Jenny I knew I had come in contact with some intensely lovely magic. Eniko Deptuch Vághy, Founding Editor-in-Chief, Lover’s Eye Press, upon first meeting

“One of the greatest expressions of the best camera is the one you have on you. –Anete Lusina, Writer, PetaPixel

The Pharrell Williams of Visual Arts: cool, eccentric, collaborative, and never aging! –Arnold Mwanjila, Director / Filmmaker / Writer

Incomparable, Inspiring, The voice of kindness, one that deserves to be loud. Nathan Bam Stanton, I CAN DO THAT and DECAHEDRON Participating Artist

The best, Love working with [Jenny]! Its been so fun! Sheila Arora, Artist Client and LEXICON Participating Artist

Jenny did an amazing job writing my bio. She really listened to everything I had to say and captured the essence of my story perfectly. I would highly recommend using Jenny for any of your professional writing needs. Jessica Kaplan, Artist Client

We need [Jenny]. Chicago needs [her] to shake things up. Sentrock, Artist

An inspiration. Christine Lozano, Exquisite Corpse, DECAHEDRON, and HYGGE Participating Artist and LAMINATOR Vol. 1 Contributing Poet

Truly a force of good in this world. Angela Townsend, LAMINATOR Vol. 1 Contributing Writer

Such a great contribution to the art world, “[Jenny] always motivate[s], challenge[s], and inspire[s] me.” Cristy Corso, LEXICON, DECAHEDRON, and HYGGE Participating Artist

[Jennys] brilliant quarantine content has been a comfort. –Darin LatimerHYGGE Participating Artist

“A prodigy / genius.” –pretty much everyone throughout childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood

“What happened?” –pretty much everyone after that, probably

“Who?” –Socrates

“Wow I cant believe you read all of that.” –Jenny Lam

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