Introspection and Glorious Appendage, Los Angeles-based Artist Chloe Chen

Born in Shanghai, China, Chloe Chen holds an M.F.A in painting and drawing in fine arts from Pratt Institute, New York. Her work involves large ink drawing, ceramics, and printmaking. As an Asian woman artist, her art reflects restrictions imposed by public opinion and conventions, and her particular cultural background surrounding women’s sexuality. Chloe’s works are exhibited and collected internationally in the USA, South Korea, and China. 

During the two academic years at Pratt, Chloe served as a graduate assistant for foundation art and symposium. After graduation, she has worked in art administration and as an artist assistant in the non-profit art organization ChaShaMa, and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City. Now she lives in San Diego, California. 

Posture I&II, 48×66 in, Ink on Paper, 2021

Thank you for joining us, Chloe. Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I am an artist who lives in San Diego, California now and focuses on large ink drawings, ceramics, and printmaking. I was born and raised in Shanghai, China. I had a strong passion for painting and drawing since I was a little kid. Before I came to the U.S, I hold a B.A degree in fiber art when I started to create mixed media through a series of experiments going beyond the traditions of 2D space, like painting and drawing into materials like textiles to the 3D explorations. In 2019, I went to the U.S and got a painting and drawing M.F.A at Pratt Institute in New York City last year. During my time at Pratt, it inspires me to explore and dig deeper into the identity as Asian woman artist. After graduation, I worked in art administration in non- profit art organizations and foundations like ChaShaMa and The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. Now I moved to Southern California to continue my art career as an artist. 

Gift, 48×90 in, Ink on Paper, 2021

What brings you to art? What ideas are you exploring in your creative practice? 

My creative practice revolves around my own experience, and the protagonist in my drawing is always myself. I always feel that some things that happen around us are like boiling frogs, however, the reality is frogs don’t boil, but we might. I created the work Abortion in 2018, and until recently Roe v. Wade was overturned, I think we haven’t done enough. Andrew Wynter, an English physician, and author wrote “If we could watch in secret the rape of each lock, we should be able to give a series of pictures of human agony such as life but rarely presents, for we may be sure that, as a rule, a young woman almost as soon lose her life as that glorious appendage, on which so much of her beauty depends.” when he described a very large trade in human hair- especially women’s hair in the 18th century to explain that there were one hundred tons of human hair annually taken to Paris and were distributed in a raw and manufactured state over the whole of Europe. Those girls who sold their hair were not only a participant in an industry chain of human-hair trade but also consumers forced by the fashion trends created by public opinion and consumerism. Today, across the world, women and girls still grow their hair for money. The relationship between women and society has been changed, but there is still a certain oppressiveness. My works start from these glorious appendages, in the form of observational drawings, ceramics, and printmaking to discuss the relationship between women and consumerism, and the social psychology driving these actions. Also, to reflect on restrictions imposed by public opinion and conventions, and my particular cultural background surrounding women’s appearance and sexuality through my introspection. 

Abortion, Dimensions Variable, Resin, Wool, Twine, 2018

What is the most exciting project you have been working on recently? 

Recently I am working on a drawing project that brings ceramics sculpture to the 2D surface drawing. Inspired by my porcelain plates series which draw detailed body hairs onto a flat and smooth surface. I love the confusion and conflict between two different textures. In this latest project, I will continue to explore my personal topics and human bodies that chaotically composed a bizarre story on ceramic sculptures and presented on 2D drawing paper and will also with traditional Chinese porcelain patterns like blue and white porcelain in a new storytelling way. 

Untitled, Dimensions Variable, Ceramics, Glaze, 2020
Untitled, Dimensions Variable, Ceramics, Glaze, 2020

What does “community” mean to you? Has your local community inspired you as a creative?

As an artist, most of my time was in studio practice. I used to enjoy the solitude of creation, but since the Covid-19 pandemic and the hate against the AAPI community, more opportunities for Asian artists to speak for themselves and stand together which is really inspiring. For me, “community” means people support each other, especially in a difficult time. And I am lucky to have been supported by the Asian artist community like the Push and Li Tang etc. 

Do you have any advice you would like to share with others? 

Don’t let the social opinion, anxiety of age, or peer pressure influence your decision. Learn to let go of others’ opinions. BE HAPPY 🙂

Plates, Dimensions Variable, Porcelain, China Paint, Glaze, 2020

text & photo courtesy of Chloe Chen

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