Kai Chan was born in 1940 in war time China. This childhood experience has been a significant foundation in building his work, namely looking for stability and peace. He moved with his family to Hong Kong in 1949, and, In 1966 immigrated to Canada.
This changing of locations and countries have informed him in his art practice, the passage from the East to West regularly appeared in his work. The environment in Canada has also inspired him in the appreciation of simple things in life. He often used material from his household, such as newspaper, toothpicks, spices or tree branches from his garden. His aim is to look for things beyond what is there and to see things that are not there.
Kai Chan is internationally recognized for his experimental approach to the art of textiles. Chan's work straddles many craft genres and has been exhibited and described as jewellery, basketry, tapestry, fashion, bookwork, fibre work, toys, contemporary art and sculpture. He has exhibited extensively across Canada, as well as in Austria, Australia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Among Kai Chan's numerous grants awards is the Jean A. Chalmers National Crafts Award (1998) and the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Fine Crafts (2002).
His solo exhibition, Into the Forest, at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte will open in 2022.