Jo-Ann Chan

BIOGRAPHY

Jo-Ann Chan is a lecturer in drawing, illustration and visual communication design at Stellenbosch University. She is an active member of the Artist’s Book Club arts collective, has contributed to group exhibitions since 2017 and had her first solo exhibition in 2019. She completed a professional BA degree in Graphic Design at North-West University in 2013, specialising in illustration and art history. Her final year practice-led research project made use of arts practices to reframe the history of the abandoned Salvamento Quarry through the lenses of identity and environmental ethics. In 2017, she obtained her MA in Graphic Design, which was supervised by Dr Ian Marley and Prof. Rita Swanepoel. Her master’s research project engaged practices from forensic anthropology, printmaking and the book arts to visualise the history of the Redan rock engraving site as a narrative identity marked by the complexity of its circumstances within heritage conservation practices. 

RESEARCH

Jo-Ann’s research interest is in the connections between memory, history and identity. This is reflected in her PhD research which is concerned with Chinese South African identity. 

The Chinese were largely underrepresented in South Africa’s historical record until the mid-1990s despite their presence in South Africa dating back at least 300 years1. In contemporary times, little emphasis has been placed at the macro-level of society on making space for this minority group and its stories in the national effort to build a new post-Apartheid South Africa. This minority South African group, which is now part of a growing global majority, has been inaccurately represented as homogenous in public media narratives and historic and contemporary artistic representations of China and the Chinese in South Africa tend to be reductionist despite there being a diverse range of communities, both locally and globally, that self-identify as Chinese. Jo-Ann’s artistic research project grapples with the complexities and tensions of Chinese South African identity and how this might be re-storied using book arts practices. Her supervisors are Prof. Willemien Froneman and Heléne van Aswegen.