Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CPC Small Print Show: Yue Chen

This blog is part of a series of interviews of participating artists / printmakers in the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative Small Print Show.

Yue Chen. Fire. 2008. Silk aquatint.

Yue Chen was born and grew up in China, where she learned the art of calligraphy from her grandmother. With a background in ceramics, she established the ZhanChi Drawing and Painting Training Program in Beijing, and worked as a sculpture designer for a decorative sculpture design corporation in Beijing. She came to the US to earn an MFA in drawing from Kansas State University. As a painter, sculptor, ceramacist, designer, and printmaker, she applies painterly Chinese calligraphic brush strokes in her figurative work. Her printmaking includes the art of silk aquatint, also known as silk mezzotint.
"Silk aquatint has the richness of mezzotint, the spontaneity of action painting, the sheer washes of water color or the vivacious surface of a palette knife impasto and the durability of a steel faced etching plate all without acid." -- Master printer Kathy Caraccio, New York University

Yue Chen. Fight. 2008. Silk aquatint.

"I have learned four things that I think really benefit my work on many levels through years of experiments of art. First, I am skilled at Chinese brushwork, which acts a corner stone of my abstract work. Second, I have exceptionally strong skills in representational drawing. This is especially the case with figure drawings, since there is a focus on realism in China. This particular experience gives me efficient understanding of representational figuration. Thirdly, I am well trained in three-dimensional art. I obtained my MA in ceramics; I have become sensitive to the volumes of spaces, which strongly affects the form of my 2D art. Fourthly, the experience of learning and teaching art in the United States has driven me into the world of contemporary art. This has lightened up my creativity.

"These four factors greatly influence my current work where I use the calligraphy of lines, in association with varied shapes and textures, to suggest the ambiguity of figures and spaces moving in and out.

"I never set up boundaries of experimenting diverse media on my work. I use acrylic, oil paints, inks and even printmaking techniques. I also use traditional drawing media such as charcoals, chalks, crayons and graphite. The variety of media enriches my personal art language on a technical level. In addition, my experience of learning and teaching 3D art dragged me out of the pure ‘two dimensional concept’ of art on paper; it opened a unique window to some unexpected results of individual art form.

"Each set of my work follows a theme, such as Figures in Spaces, Where is Me, Rules and Me, and my most current series — The World in Cats’ Sight. However, I am not trying to persuade audiences into believing and visualizing ‘my story’ literally. Instead, my work tries to provoke its own imagination.

"This is the way I speak to my work and also the way I hope my work speaks to the world."

Yue Chen. Cats, series 2. 2008. Silk aquatint.

Yue's exhibitions include: Neither Here Nor There, solo thesis exhibition, Kansas State University, 2008; Phoenix, sculpture, ShuoZhou, Shan Xi Province, China; The light, ceramic wall project, Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing; Untitled, ceramic wall project, Peking Hotel, Beijing; University faculty and graduate student exhibition, Best Work Award, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

For more information on Yue and her art, go to

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