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Esmie Gayo McLaren: Bridging Communities Through Art

Esmie Gayo McLaren is not just an artist; she is a bridge-builder, a champion of diversity, and a voice for the marginalized. Through her vibrant paintings and tireless advocacy work, Esmie has left an indelible mark in the art world, fostering understanding, empathy, and empowerment.

Professional Achievements

Esmie’s journey in the art world is marked by numerous accolades and impactful projects:

  • She received the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) Award for her ongoing efforts in fostering cultural understanding through her art.
  • Her painting “Playful Blossoms” was chosen for an anti-racism poster campaign, leading to further engagement in multiculturalism initiatives.
  • Esmie co-curated the “Just Breathe” exhibit, highlighting the importance of reconnecting with nature amidst daily challenges.
  • Her solo exhibit “Expanding Horizons” in Manhattan showcased her artistic vision on an international stage.
  • Esmie organized and contributed to various exhibits celebrating Filipino culture, such as the Pagtitipon Art Exhibit and “Essence,” which traveled to Ottawa.
  • She chaired the Generation One Art Exhibit, elevating awareness of Filipino culture within VAHMS and the wider community.
  • Esmie played a pivotal role in the Filipinos First Families, First Stories project, honoring pioneers of the Filipino community in BC.

Challenges Overcome

Despite facing challenges such as a lack of formal art training and balancing familial responsibilities, Esmie pursued her passion relentlessly. She obtained a Certificate in Fine Arts from Emily Carr University and navigated the world of nonprofits, eventually becoming an advisor to the VAHMS board.

Impact on the Industry

Esmie’s influence extends beyond her artistic endeavors:

  • She has paved the way for Filipino artists and raised awareness of multicultural artistic achievements.
  • Through her art, she addresses pressing issues like racism and gender inequality, advocating for social change.
  • Esmie emphasizes the importance of fair compensation for artists, highlighting their indispensable societal role.

Mentorship and Advocacy

Esmie’s commitment to empowering women artists is evident in her mentorship and advocacy efforts. She believes in uplifting each other and celebrating successes, fostering a supportive community for women in the arts.

Future Goals

In the foreseeable future, Esmie is resolute in her commitment to advancing her artistic journey. She aims to create art full-time, building bridges between communities and addressing social issues. Esmie remains dedicated to spreading joy through artmaking and inspiring others, especially women and children, to pursue their dreams diligently.

In a world often divided by differences, Esmie Gayo McLaren’s art serves as a guiding light, illuminating paths of unity, empathy, and hope. Through her dedication and passion, she continues to make a profound impact, reminding us of the transformative power of art in fostering understanding and connection.


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Melissa has 8+ years of combined Commercial, Business and Contract Law experience as In-House Counsel in manufacturing, health, real estate development, and broadcast communication industries. She is instrumental in developing strategies to minimize legal risk and ensure regulatory compliance.

She has 6+ years of Human Resources Management experience and a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. Her practice includes Family Law, Civil Litigation, Wills & Estates and Real Estate & Conveyancing.

For fun, she visits ancient sites and ruins and belts out popular Broadway tunes.

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