Gridthiya "Jeab" Gaweewong, one of Koktail’s Future List 2023 honourees, and the artistic director of the Jim Thompson Art Centre in Bangkok, is an influential figure in Thailand's art landscape. From her humble beginnings teaching English in a refugee camp to her current role as a curator, Gridthiya has left an impact on the country's cultural scene.
After teaching English at a refugee camp, she earned a master's in art administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Co-founding Project 304, an alternative space for contemporary art, marked a significant step in her career. This project, co-founded by Gridthiya, operated as an experimental arts space from 1996 to 2003. A non-profit initiative supporting emerging local artists and stimulating discussions on social, cultural, and political issues. Exhibitions spanned traditional mediums like painting and sculpture to contemporary forms including installations, photography, and video.
Gridthiya seeks to emphasise diversity, multi-disciplinarity, and relevance in Thailand's art scene. Her vision goes beyond gallery spaces, aspiring for better cultural policies, heightened public involvement, and a shift away from narrow nationalism.
In her doctoral dissertation, she explored 'small narratives' in Thai and Southeast Asian art, focusing on exhibition histories and artworlds. Her research explored artist collectives including Chiang Mai Social Installation. Gridthiya's curatorial approach highlights grassroots perspectives that defy institutional grand narratives. She advocates for socially engaged art challenging problematic realities, shaping Thai contemporary art.
Gridthiya’s involvement in the Chiang Mai Social Installation Project, alongside artist Navin Rawanchaikul, sought to challenge Bangkok's dominance in Thai contemporary art. By highlighting Chiang Mai's rich culture and traditional craftsmanship, the project aimed to provide an alternative to the conventional capital city art scene.
Against Thailand's conservative education system, Gridthiya embraced innovation as a faculty member of The Alternative Art School. This online platform, founded to provide affordable and accessible global art education, aimed to break free from traditional constraints.
Gridthiya's collaboration with filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul led to the co-founding of the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival and numerous other artistic projects. Their connection projects a mutual dedication to support younger artists and filmmakers in Thailand.
Gridthiya cherishes moments spent in artists' studios, considering it a privilege to understand the environments and ideas that shape their work. This connection enables her to curate exhibitions that showcase aesthetics while integrating political themes. Through various projects and teamwork, Gridthiya contributes to shaping a more dynamic and connected Thai art landscape.