Audrey Chan

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What Is My Work About? 

One of my tenets as an artist is to create tools of critical and philosophical engagement with history and current events. I embrace and pay homage to the pluralism and multiculturalism of American society, creating projects that play in the intersections of political and cultural identities. The radical inheritance of the Feminist Art Movement and the social poetics of the art of the Culture Wars are my touchstones. I engage the feminist maxim ?the personal is political? through image/text, role-play performance, video, and artist books. My multidisciplinary practice is informed by cultural research, dialectical inquiry, and associative image making. In recent projects, I have been building an Asian American iconography of fantasy, experience, and narrative exegesis.

 

Artist Statement

One of my tenets as an artist is to create tools of critical and philosophical engagement with history and current events. I embrace and pay homage to the pluralism and multiculturalism of American society, creating projects that play in the intersections of political and cultural identities. The radical inheritance of the Feminist Art Movement and the social poetics of the art of the Culture Wars are my touchstones. I engage the feminist maxim “the personal is political” through image/text, role-play performance, video, and artist books. My multidisciplinary practice is informed by cultural research, dialectical inquiry, and associative image making. In recent projects, I have been building an Asian American iconography of fantasy, experience, and narrative exegesis.

[Slides 1-10]

Since 2007, I have made private and public appearances as JC2, the Chinese American doppelganger of feminist artist Judy Chicago. My engagement with the legacy of Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s Feminist Art Program (California Institute of the Arts, 1971-1973) began as one of the student organizers of Exquisite Acts & Everyday Rebellions: 2007 CalArts Feminist Art Project. I wanted to bridge her archival and “mythic” presence in art history and my own body and consciousness as a post-backlash feminist artist working in Los Angeles. In a performance that took place on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, “Walk of Cunts (Study After Judy Chicago)” (2011), I used role-play, costume, and sublimation of the self to embody a performative dialogue with the persona of Judy Chicago and cunt iconography from her iconic installation, “The Dinner Party” (1974-79). These public performances of feminist “generational simultaneity” have led to performative collaborations with Chicago, which have included a shopping trip, a makeover, and guest appearances at her Los Angeles gallery openings. The JC2 performances and collaborations raise the question: Where is the self located in the relationships of teacher and student, master and apprentice, and mentor and mentee? This year, I traveled to Chicago’s home and studio in Belen, New Mexico for a series of frank conversations about the challenges of building a lasting legacy as a woman artist. I am currently developing an artist book, JC2, that makes public these intimate exchanges and documents this 7-year long process of dialectical embodiment and self-discovery.

[Slide 11]

“A Few of Her Favorite Things” (2014) is a portrait that commemorates my late grandmother, Soolsin Chan-Ling (1921-2014), whom I called Ahma. She was a matriarch, a naturalized US citizen, a voter, an avid reader, and my muse. It is a spiritual painting that draws from historical traditions of gilded icons meant to be worshipped in prayer, depictions of the Buddha achieving nirvana, and funerary offerings for the departed. She is surrounded by personal effects from her daily life and Buddhist prayer, as well as a statuette of Cai Yuanpei, president of Peking University and a leader of the anti-Imperialist May Fourth Movement (1915-1921) in China. In her final years, she was still able to recite from memory Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s resignation speech as the first President of the Republic of China, which she learned as a young girl. It was learning about her example as a young matriarch amidst the dawn and upheaval of modern China that introduced me to the feminist concept of “the personal is political.”

[Slides 12-15]

“Center of the Universe, Ahma (detail)” (2013) is an allegorical tableau in which my grandmother appears and reappears within a landscape that is both peaceable and plagued. Scenes are distilled from the 24-hour news cycle, family lore, and the architectural landscape of Chicago into a graphic narrative herstory. The image was constructed as a vector graphic that was scaled to span a 40-foot wall to transform an intimate narrative into a monumental and immersive environment. In the scene, mundane and fantastical vignettes depict Ahma as a matriarchal deity witnessing acts of senseless violence, cradling a baby and a grandfather, and moving with a walker amongst whimsical scenes from a Chinese folk lullaby. It was also a product of my imagining the associative universe set loose by the onset of Ahma’s dementia, in which time and space are no longer fixed. Translated visually, figure and space shift in scale and placement, floating on a groundless plane. As in Gothic and Renaissance narrative cycles, scale here serves symbolism and narrative rather than optical illusion. Compositional references included Domenico di Micelino’s fresco “La Divina Commedia di Dante” (1465) and the “Chinese in America” (1993) mosaic by artists Zhaou Ping and Yan Dong located in Chicago’s Chinatown.

[Slide 16]

“Proposal for a Mural Dedicated to David Tran” (2014) is in conversation with community murals that chronicle and glorify immigrants’ pursuit of the American Dream, commemorating heroes, martyrs, and elevating the quotidian in a didactic folk vernacular. The Huey Fong freighter carried Tran and Vietnamese refugees to the U.S. in 1978 after the Vietnam War. The ship churns through a red sauce, foreshadowing his promise as an aspiring entrepreneur, as founder of Huy Fong Foods and creator of the popular Sriracha chili sauce, while also serving as a reminder of the bloodshed and death of millions of Vietnamese during the war and the boat people who perished in transit.

[Slides 17-20]

In “Chinatown Abecedario: A Folk Taxonomy of L.A.’s Chinatown” (2012), I tested the findings of theorists Émile Durkheim and Claude Lévi-Strauss, who proposed that the process of learning draws upon the knowledge and beliefs within a local culture, thereby creating a set of ideas that are passed on within a community. As an aspiring urban folk taxonomist, I viewed Los Angeles’ Chinatown through the science of vernacular naming systems people use to give meaning and order to their surroundings and experiences. It is an iconic ethnic enclave in which fantastical architecture, immigrant communities, galleries, and family-run businesses coexist despite the contradictory impulses of historic preservation and waves of displacement and urban development. The animated video takes the form of an alphabetical folk taxonomy of a neighborhood as a series of multilingual moving flash cards. “Abecedario” is Spanish for “alphabet” and is used to describe an alphabetical listing of words used in teaching a language. The video consists of 26 animated vignettes for each letter of the alphabet and draws upon tropes of language instruction, such as word and image association, repetition, and recitation. The fixed but arbitrary structure of an alphabet allows for the poetic frictions of Chinatown’s past and present, real and imaginary, and mundane and exotic to be collapsed through free association.

 

CV

Education

MFA, Program in Art, School of Art, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2007

BA with Honors, Studio Art and Political Science, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 2004

Undergraduate Independent Study, Ox-Bow Summer School of Art, Saugatuck, Michigan, 2004

Foreign Study, Tyler School of Art, Temple University Rome, Rome, Italy, 2003

 

Solo Exhibitions

(forthcoming), Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, California, 2015

“3 Solo Projects: Audrey Chan, Elana Mann, Chan & Mann,” Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California, curated by Meg Linton, 2013

“Meet the Chans & Manns,” collaboration with Elana Mann, 323 Projects, Los Angeles, California, 2013

“Chann & Mhann: A Historical Retrospective, 2005-2012,” collaboration with Elana Mann, Elephant Art Space, Los Angeles, California, 2012

“Palissades #2: Audrey Chan,” Parvis de Onyx, St-Herblain/Atlantis, France, 2009

“Notes Toward an Exhibition,” galerie de l’école régionale des beaux-arts de Nantes, Nantes, France, 2009

“Matriarch,” A402 Gallery, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2007

“BOOMERANG,” D301 Gallery, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2006

 

SELECTED Group Exhibitions

“XX Redux,” Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, California, curated by Nancy Buchanan, 2015

“Laugh-in: Art, Comedy, Performance,” Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, California, curated by Jill Dawsey, 2015

“Gettin’ Off the Ground: Contemporary Stories from an American Community,” Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, California, curated by Isabelle Lutterodt, 2014

“Thaumatrope,” First Street Gallery, Claremont, California, curated by Summer Camp ProjectProject, 2014

“Identity,” Gallery Nine5, New York, New York, curated by Anne Swartz and Maria Elena Buszek, 2014

“Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art,” Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, curated by Alma Ruiz, 2014

“L.A. Heat: Taste Changing Condiments,” Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles, California, curated by Steve Wong, 2014

“Beaver,” CPR – Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, New York, 2014

“A Germ Grows Into Life,” Chin’s Push, Los Angeles, California, 2013

“Art Intersections, Intersections as American Life: The Smithsonian Asian-Latino Festival,” Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, Maryland, curated by Shizu Saldamando, Eric Nakamaura, and Adriel Luis, 2013

“Myths of Rape (2012),” performance by Audrey Chan and Elana Mann, a reinterpretation of Leslie Labowitz-Starus’ “Myths of Rape” (1977), part of Suzanne Lacy’s “Three Weeks in May” (1977), presented by Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) as part of “Three Weeks in January,” Getty Pacific Standard Time Performance Festival, LA Art Show, LA Convention Center, Los Angeles, California, 2012

“(de)Constructing Chinatown,” Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles, California, curated by Steve Wong, 2012

“On Tap Invitational,” Bowmont Art Collection at the Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, California, curated by Lauri Firstenberg, Thomas Lawson, Franklin Sirmans, Ali Subotnick, and Dean Valentine, 2011

“By and For: Democracy and Art,” Avenue 50 Studio, Los Angeles, California, curated by Carol A. Wells, 2011

“Collective Show Los Angeles 2011,” 995/997 Hill Street, Los Angeles, California, 2011

“CRW – contemporary reflections on war,” BKS Garage, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark, curated by Julie Galsbo and Malene Dam, 2010

“Conventions & Attitudes,” Exchange Rate: 2008, Remy’s on Temple, Los Angeles, California, 2008

“re-Perspective,” The Office: An Art Space, Huntington Beach, California, curated by Autumn Beck and Chlöe Flores, 2007

“FOR EVER,” 915 Mateo, Los Angeles, California, curated by Eungie Joo and Clara Kim, 2007

“A Not So Simple Case for Torture,” D300 Gallery, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, curated by Sam Durant and Nancy Buchanan, 2007

“Memorial Proposals for the Iraq War,” 9th Street Entry Gallery, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2007

“Mid-Residency Exhibition,” Mint Gallery, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2006

“femmeusesaction #15, l’exposition,” Parc Saint Léger – Centre d’arte contemporain, Pougues-les-Eaux, France, curated by Cécile Proust, 2006

“It Was the Blurst of Times,” Commerce Street Artist Warehouse, Houston, Texas, 2006

“Let’s Talk About…,” Larissa Goldston Gallery, New York, New York, 2006

“Speed Limit,” REDHEAD at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, New York, 2006

 

RESIDENCIES AND FELLOWSHIPS

CCF Fellowship for Visual Artists, 2013

ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, 2013

Artist-in-residence, l’école régionale des beaux-arts de Nantes, Nantes, France, 2009

 

PUBLICATION WRITING

“JC2,” artist book, Insert Blanc Press, 2016.

“Artists at Work: Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin.” New World Summit Academy for Cultural Activism: Collective Struggle of Refugees: Lost. In Between. Together., Fall 2013.

“Rupture and Continuity in Feminist Re-performance,” co-written with Elana Mann and Alexandra Grant, Afterall Journal, Issue 33, Summer 2013.

“Nancy Buchanan: Ethical Provocations.” Afterall Online, January 10, 2012.

“Is It Still a Man’s World? On Judy Chicago’s ‘Car Hood’.” The Getty Iris, December 6, 2011.

“Reports from a Strange Democracy: Guillermo Gómez-Peña.” East of Borneo, August 11, 2011.

“Conseil juridique et artistique / Legal and Artistic Counsel,” bilingual artist book (French/English), 2011.

“Artists at Work: Mark Manders.” Afterall Online, December 7, 2010.

“Artists at Work: Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin.” Afterall Online, November 3, 2009.

“Teaching with Contemporary Art,” Art:21 Blog, March 2-14, 2009.

“I am here because of Ashley: Obama and Piper on the Rhetoric of Race.” …might be good, October 31, 2008.

“Protest Story.” ID 517: Special Topics in Art and Society: A Not So Simple Case for Torture, edited by Sam Durant and Nancy Buchanan. onestar press, published August 2008.

“Lloyd Hamrol Remembers CalArts.” Afterall Online, 14 February 2008.

“Artists at Work: Matt Keegan.” Afterall Online, 6 February 2007.

 

PRESS

Brooks, Katherine. “Judy Chicago is Connecting the Dots of Feminist History, One Exhibition at a Time.” The Huffington Post, April 4, 2014.

Jao, Carren. “Hot Stuff: L.A.’s Cross-Cultural Condiments.” KCET Artbound, March 19, 2014.

Frank, Priscilla. “An Art Show Dedicated Entirely to Hot Sauce Is Making Our Spicy Dreams Come True.” The Huffington Post, March 16, 2014.

Cabral, Javier. “‘L.A. Heat’: Finally, an art exhibit devoted to Sriracha and Tapatio sauces.” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2014.

Hu, Iris Yirei. “The Struggle is the Destination: An Interview with Audrey Chan.” baumtest Issue #1: A Germ Grows into Life/Knowledge, Fall 2013.

Gan, Vicky. “Beyond the Korean Taco: When Asian and Latino American Cultures Collide.” Around the Mall Blog, Smithsonian.com, August 6, 2013.

Fraser, Paul. “‘Chan and Mann’ Collaborate in New Exhibition at Otis College.” 24700 Blog, CalArts, August 2, 2013.

Chung Dawson, Kelly. “Smithsonian showcases Asian-Latino links.” China Daily, August 2, 2013.

Wagley, Catherine. “Five Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week, Including Gary Cooper’s Architect and July 4 Karaoke.” LA Weekly, July 3, 2013.

Jao, Carren. “Counter Cliché: The Asian and Latino Bi-Cultural Experience.” KCET Artbound, March 13, 2013.

Cheh, Carol. “Alternatives to the Alternatives: 10 L.A. Art Spaces That Change Our Idea of What an Art Space Is.” LA Weekly, November 21, 2012.

Wagley, Catherine. “High hipsters at Hop Louie.” LA Weekly, August 16, 2012.

Wagley, Catherine. “Five Artsy Things to Do This Week, Including Cloned Plastic Rabbits.” LA Weekly, August 15, 2012.

Unterman, Phoebe. “’Deconstructing’ Chinatown Clichés.” Los Angeles Downtown News, July 27, 2012.

Hebron, Micol. “Putting the Words Back into the F-Word. An Interview with Audrey Chan and Elana Mann.” ARTPULSE Magazine, No. 12 Summer 2012.

Cheh, Carol. “25 Alternative L.A. Art Spaces to Check Out Now.” LA Weekly, May 3, 2012.

Xiao, An. “Turning the Seven Year Itch into a Retrospective.” Hyperallergic, April 18, 2012.

Palma, Christine. “Myths of Rape Performance at the 2012 LA Art Show–Interview with Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus.” KXLU Los Angeles, January 24, 2012.

Calder, Diane. “Myths of Rape (1977/2012) at the L.A. Art Show.” Artweek.LA, January 23, 2012.

Borello, Matthias Hvass. “Advarsel: Fare for dybde [Warning: Danger of Depth].” KUNSTEN.NU, March 9, 2010.

Jeppesen, Michael. “Når man vil forstå krig [When you want to understand war].” Information.dk, March 3, 2010.

Cheh, Carol. “1969, organized by Vincent Ramos for The Friends of Distinction (Dan Graham), December 5, 2009.” Another Righteous Transfer!, December 7, 2009.

Cesbron, Christophe. “Notes Toward an Exhibition: Audrey Chan.” Wik, May 20, 2009.

Stacy, Greg. “They Gave at the Office.” OC Weekly, October 5, 2007.

Wertheim, Christine. “Showing Our Roots: Has Feminism Become Just Another ‘Ism’?” CalArts Magazine, Summer/Fall 2007.

“Feminist Art Initiatives and Projects.” Women in the Arts, Fall 2007.

Lipka, Sara. “The Arts & Academe.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16, 2007.

Muchnic, Suzanne. “Feminism looks to the horizons: A CalArts symposium brings together leading artists together over the big questions.” Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2007.

Muchnic, Suzanne. “Landmarks from a younger vantage.” Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2007.

Buckley, Annie. “Viewpoint.” Artweek, March 2007.

Fougeras, Nathalie. “Post-féminismes et performativités exposés.” lacritique.org, February 27, 2007.

Rhodes, Dusti. “Getting the Words Wrong: ‘Blurst of Times’ makes art from miscommunication.” Houston Press, October 12, 2006.

Taylor, Kate. “The Season of Gallery Groupthink.” New York Sun, July 27, 2006.

 

PERTINENT WORK EXPERIENCE

EMPLOYMENT

Project Specialist for Artist-Based Programs, Education Department, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, 2012-present

Visiting Faculty, Program in Art, School of Art, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2012

Gallery Teacher, Education Department, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, 2009-2012

Visiting Faculty, l’école régionale des beaux-arts de Nantes, Nantes, France, 2009

Part-time Adult and Academic Programs Assistant, Education Department, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 2008

Education Assistant, New Museum, New York, New York, 2007-2008

 

ORGANIZING

“Shares & Stakeholders: The Feminist Art Project Day of Panels at the 100th Annual College Art Association Conference,” co-organizer with Elana Mann, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, 2012

“Exquisite Acts & Everyday Rebellions: 2007 CalArts Feminist Art Project,” project co-founder and symposium organizer, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2007

 

PANEL DISCUSSIONS AND ARTIST LECTURES

Artist lecture, After the Fact: Feminist Cultural Production & Temporal Dissonance, 7th Annual PhD Symposium, Department of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego, 2014

Artist lecture, University of San Diego, San Diego, California, 2013

Artist lecture, Pitzer College, Claremont, California, 2013

Artist lecture, Art Practice, Activism, and Pedagogy: Some Feminist Views, symposium organized by Mira Schor, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York, 2012

Panel co-chair with Elana Mann, “Colleagues, Co-conspirators, and Partners: Perspectives from Feminist Men” with Tavia Nyong’o, Glenn Phillips, and Howard Singerman, Shares & Stakeholders: The Feminist Art Project Day of Panels at the 100th Annual College Art Association Conference, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, 2012

Artist lecture, “From Chicago to Chicago: How I Became a Feminist Artist Despite Never Having Witnessed the 1970s,” Still Doin’ It: Fanning the Flames of the Woman’s Building, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California, 2011

Artist lecture, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, Georgia, 2010

Artist lecture with Elana Mann and Theresa Masangkay, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2009

Panel moderator, “The Personal is Political, Revisited,” panel discussion with Andrea Bowers, Dorit Cypis, and Martha Rosler, Exquisite Acts & Everyday Rebellions: 2007 CalArts Feminist Art Symposium, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 2007

Panel speaker, Greater LA MFA Exhibition panel discussion, California State University at Long Beach, Long Beach, California, 2006