11/14/2014 05:09 EST | Updated 01/14/2015 05:59 EST

Modern Chinese art steeped in tradition

The Vancouver Art Gallery's newest exhibit is designed to showcase contemporary Chinese artists, through 30 large-scale artworks - from installations to digital animations.

Those works, although quintessentially modern, are still influenced by centuries of tradition, something evident by another exhibit running simultaneously at the gallery.

The Forbidden City exhibit showcases ancient artifacts from inside the court of China's emperors.

Artist Jennifer Wen Ma told The Early Edition's Elaine Chau the artifacts in the exhibit an artistic mindset she grew up with in China. 

"This idea that refinement and culture has always been a part of everyday life down to the way you make tea. Until I left China I didn't really realize that it's not like that everywhere."

Ma says her heritage is represented in her work, but she says it's often not a conscious decision.

"You are who you are, and your work should come out of the deeper reflections of who you are."

One of Ma's pieces, entitled Inked Chandelier, is a five-tired metal structure. It will be covered in live plants, that have been covered in traditional Chinese ink, a mix of charcoal and water.

"We hope they'll stay healthy and grow green, and change over time, so come see it when it's all black at the beginning of the exhibition, but come see it again in the spring."

Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Contemporary Art opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery tomorrow, and runs until April 6th.