Monday, August 12, 2019

#MeettheArtistMonday

Meet Hera Gallery artist member and director, Tzu-Ju Chen.

"I am the happiest when I pick up an object, see the beauty embedded within, and envision the potential it has to become something more. I am haunted by the potential of these collected objects and they compel me to make work."

Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.

Growing up in Taiwan, R.O.C., I remembered fabric scraps and beach combing.
My parents were tailors. My father specialized in the formfitting traditional Chinese garment called “qipao” while my mother made contemporary everyday outfits. Working with our hands runs in the family. Raised in a southern coastal village, my childhood memories are comprised of going to school, playing with fabric scraps under my parents’ sewing table, and beach combing. It was much later in life I realize the significance of these childhood experiences and their impact on me as a person and as an artist.
After emigrating to the U.S. at the age of fourteen, one constant remains - I am the happiest when I pick up an object, see the beauty embedded within, and envision the potential it has to become something more. I am haunted by the potential of these collected objects and they compel me to make work.
I was fortunate to be accepted into Rhode Island School of Design. I took my first jewelry class with Sondra Sherman during my freshman year and found my calling at the jeweler’s bench. While at RISD I attended the European Honors Program in Rome. There, I fell in love with architecture in antiquity and have been drawing inspiration from it ever since. After graduating from RISD, I designed fashion jewelry for four years before attending Cranbrook Academy of Art for a Master of Fine Art degree in Metalsmithing. 
What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?

My most recent work is a series titled “When dreams travel…”, five brooches combining elements of travel mementos and architectural inspiration. Drawn to architecture in antiquity, I extrapolated Byzantine, Venetian, and Roman architectural elements like columns and arches, reconstructed them in my own way, and fused them to corals, pearls, and other found objects. I create my own imaginary world of oceanic ruins and architecture in antiquity, as a means of finding my place in the world. 

My pieces are complete objects on their own but are enhanced when they are worn—each piece has a public side for the viewer and a private side for the wearer. This aspect of intimacy enhances the preciousness of body adornment and is important to me as a maker.  

What influences your work? Why?
“Nostalgia” and “reconciliation” are two major undertones of my work. I gravitate towards ancient techniques and live in the modern world. I am in flux between tradition, cultural identity and its relevance in my current surroundings. 


Why are you a member of Hera?
It is an honor to be a member of Hera. To be amongst some of the hardest working, open-minded, and inclusive artists has provided me with awesome exchanges and tremendous support during this transitional time of my life.







To see more of Tzu-Ju's work visit her website: http://tzujuchen.com

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