Vivek Shraya

2015 Emerging Artist Award Finalist

Vivek Shraya is a Toronto-based artist working in the media of literature, music, performance, and film. Vivek’s body of work includes ten albums, four short films, and three books. A three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek’s books have been used as textbooks at several post-secondary institutions and his debut novel, She of the Mountains, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2014. Vivek has read and performed at shows, festivals, and post-secondary institutions internationally, sharing the stage with Tegan & Sara and Dragonette and has appeared at NXNE, Word on the Street, and Yale University. He was the 2014 recipient of Anokhi Media’s inaugural Most Promising LBGTQ Community Crusader Award in 2015. 


Photo of Vivek Shraya by Denise Grant Photography


What is artistic excellence?

Artistic excellence is the willingness to be imperfect, to be vulnerable, and to take risks.


Where do you live in the city?

I live in West Queen West.


What is your favourite Toronto neighbourhood?

Riverdale and Cabbagetown are my favourite neighbourhoods in Toronto. 


Where can we find you when you’re not working? 

When I am not working (is there such a time?), I watch a lot of movies. Carlton Cinema has the best popcorn.


What was your reaction after learning that you are a finalist for the Emerging Artist Award?

I told a friend that it felt like a giant hug from what has sometimes felt like a hard city. I have been making art in Toronto for over twelve years and it feels wonderful to be recognized as a Toronto artist through this award.


Do you have a mentor?

Some of my mentors include Maureen Hynes, Marilyn McLean, Trish Yeo, Farzana Doctor, Tegan and Sara, and Amber Dawn.


Who do you admire?

I admire artists of colour who persist despite systemic barriers.


What do you enjoy most about what you do?

What I enjoy most about being an artist is the creative process—transforming an abstract idea into something physical. 


What keeps you going?

Making art is the reason I wake up every morning. It gives me a sense of direction and purpose.


What are your goals?

I want to find more ways to be kind to myself and others. I want to keep making art.


How do you feel you contribute to the city?

As a genderqueer, queer Indian artist, it is my hope that my contribution to Toronto is to create space for voices that aren't often heard.