Briefly describe the work you do.
In my work I focus on line, always recognizing its presence within drawing, Chinese calligraphy and painting, and American Abstract Expressionism. I make sculpture/installations, which are composed of recycled materials including copper wire, electrical wire and components, and some found objects. My work is about harmony and dissonance, peace and chaos, the subtle and the powerful as well as the driving force for inner fulfillment, balance, and the experience of inner power.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was born in Beigang, Taiwan graduating from the Chinese Cultural University. I continued my post-graduate education at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where I graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree. I have traveled the world spending time in India, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, North Eastern China as well as Beijing, and Rome, as a volunteer for a non-profit organization working for global peace. I am rooted in the understanding of the universal nature of the human being. Inside we are all the same and we are magnificent. This understanding colors all my work and has led me to try to express what that means to me and how it feels to be one of those Human Beings.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I spend a lot of time in my studio. I just moved to the Brewery Artist loft because I need more space for what I am working on. My understanding of myself as an artist in the studio is this: I am a studio rat. I want to spend all my time in my studio! This is why I downsized my life to make this journey, selling it all to move into the space I am in now.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I first started making art for self-fulfillment and self-expression and did not expect to have a career as an artist. But when nothing felt right if I wasn’t working on my stuff, when even my husband pointed out that I wasn’t happy, that I was just dragging myself through this life, I realized that this wasn’t really a matter of deciding to enjoy whatever and it would be OK. I am an artist. I have no choice.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
This is going to sound mystical. But, I let it come to me and in the process I discover the art. That’s why it takes so long sometimes. I work when the inspiration gets a hold of me. I started the Entelechy series in 2010 and it is still going on. I find inspiration from meditation, Nature and life experience.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I have been working on the Entelechy series on and off for five years. Sometimes I side track into mixed media drawings, which go hand in hand with the sculpture/installations. They are all the small pieces of a big pie because I choose the linear elements in various materials and merge them in my work to express the flow of power and strength reaching towards a cohesive whole. To me, when I group materials together, such as “electrical wire, plastic casing and components”, “paper, paper clips and staples”, they have to either make sense in terms of objects’ function or contrast in a mind boggling way.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
They all have an impact on my work, because my friends, family and certain philosophers and sages influence and impact my life. My work is rooted in my life experience. However, I am especially influenced by the writings of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I enjoy spending quiet time with myself exploring the inner world. I also enjoy travelling, cooking, gardening and spending time with my outrageous family.
Chenhung Chen is an artist living and working in Los Angeles. She was born in Beigang, Taiwan graduating from the Chinese Cultural University. She continued her post-graduate education at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree. She has traveled the world spending time in India, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, North Eastern China as well as Beijing, and Rome, as a volunteer for a non-profit organization working for global peace. Her work has been shown internationally.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.