Avery Zhao's practice includes documentary painting, live painting and sculpture. Topics of research include urban and futurist concerns, multidisciplinary interpretations of a story, and contemporary work situations. She has received several grants for her work and was recently invited as a guest speaker for ‘Her Story: Professional Women in Montreal’s Art Scene’, a talk organized by CUJAH, Yiara Magazine, and Her Campus Concordia. Avery has co-curated an Art Matters exhibit, 'Art Crush in Time' at the Articule gallery, Montreal.
Avery was born in Beijing, China, and at the age of five her family moved to Ottawa, Ontario. She studied Design at Ryerson University and from 2005 to 2008 she studied at the Grande Ecole ESMOD in Paris, France, where she graduated in Fashion Design. For several years following she worked as a fashion designer in Paris and Montreal for several international brands, her work leading her to research trips around Europe, Asia and the US.
After leaving this position to pursue a second degree in Fine Arts, she now works at the Institute for Urban Futures at Concordia University. Avery was a coordinator for FASA from 2015-2017 and is a board member for RAAV, the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec. In 2016 Avery assisted with R & D within the Topological Media Lab for the Solar Decathlon Competition (project TEAM MTL), a joint collaboration between McGill University and Concordia University. Her research there primarily covered caustics and shadowplay.
In 2013 Avery founded the on-going multidisciplinary research and performance project Art Crush. She is inspired by the patterns, constraints, notation and arrangement systems of the music and dance disciplines. She explores these in her own practice of live painting, or her preferred description of ‘reactionary or scribe painting’. In 2016 she completed a two-week residency entitled ‘Tactile Museum’ at the Montreal artist centre Eastern Bloc, in collaboration with a dance choreographer. In 2017 Art Crush performed at the Salle Bourgie in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with innovative Baroque group Ensemble Caprice.
During a month-long residency at the Banff Centre of the same year Avery continued her research on the Art Crush project, creating dozens of live-painted artworks and a set of specialized painting tools. This work, entitled ‘The Painter as Scribe’, was exhibited at the VAV Gallery in Fall 2017.
Avery is currently working on a 25 minute live-painting video commission by pianist David Jalbert, to visualize his recording of Phrygian Gates by composer John Adams.