Vincent CY Chen
Absolutely in love with Vincent CY Chen's use of found materials and mixed media to create tongue-in-cheek, quasi-ready-made sculptures that are a play on human behavior and anatomy. More at the links below!
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First, I'd like to know a bit about you -- can you introduce yourself? What first interested you in making art?
Hi, my name is Vincent CY Chen, I’m a Taiwanese artist, I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in NYC, I’m interested in the interplay of psychology and biology, and I’m obsessed with human body and body parts.
I believe all of us enjoyed making art when we were kids, I have simply never stopped enjoying it.
You make sculptures and installations, primarily -- what attracts you to this?
I perversely enjoy the struggle of making sculptures and how much manual labor it requires. From sweating head-to-toe while carving foam, mixing polyurethane foam and resin with a respirator on my face hoping they don’t cause brain cancer, cutting wood and welding metal with power tools, to the painful process of transporting bigger sculptures from point A to point B. I find my interests in the relationship between human body and man-made objects parallels the most with the process of sculpture making.
Your work might be described as an exploration or investigation of why we are the way we are, or how we can make sense of our complex thoughts and behaviors. Can you elaborate a bit on the questions or ideas that drive your practice?
I find psychology incredibly complex and inspiring, I’m interested in how the human mind works as an individual and collectively as a species. In my works I ask questions like where does a sense of guilt come from? Does our sexual desire have any connections with childhood trauma? Is there a separation between one’s mind and body or are they interconnected? Through creating sculptures, my attempts at making sense of myself and the chaotic world unfold.
What is the thing that intrigues you or challenges you the most about the media you work in, or the ideas related to it?
I work with a wide range of materials, I think the most intriguing part of making mixed media sculptures is to figure out how to mix all kinds of media into a single piece of work harmoniously.
Do you do any research or preparation of any kind before beginning a new piece?
I read books on psychology and philosophy in a non-conventional way, I jump around different books and read segments of them in no logical order. I get obsessed with some of the ideas I read, then the collection of fragmented information then become inspirations for my works.
What is your studio like?
I’m lucky enough to have my own studio, I call it “the bunker” even though it is four stories above ground. I feel comfortable being vulnerable and honest to myself in here, and it allows me to work on art all day without distractions.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that help you get in to the mode to create?
Yes!! Whenever I put on my dirty pants and working shoes my body knows it is time to have fun and make a mess.
What do you think is the most challenging, frustrating, or daunting part of pursuing an artistic practice, whether creatively or professionally? What do you do to get through it?
The most daunting part of being an artist for me is self doubt. Questions like “Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes to be an artist or am I just pretending to be one? Why are the final outcomes of my works are never as vivid as I imagined in my head?” haunt me all the time. My only solution to never-ending self doubt is to keep making and try to learn from my mistakes and improve upon my new works.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice that someone has given you, who/which has changed the way you approach your work?
A teacher once told me that “doctors practice medicine, lawyers practice law; but athletes play sports, musicians play music, and we as artists, play art.” Whenever I get too caught up on trying to make something good and get super stressed out, I remind myself to keep the playfulness and enjoy the process, not fight against it.
What do you need most, or value most, as an artist?
I think nothing makes me happier than a nice long conversation with like-minded people. Being an artist can feel very lonely sometimes, I genuinely appreciate the support from the friends I have made along the way, I guess what I’m trying to say is that a sense of community is what I need most as an artist.
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished graduate school applications and interviews a couple months ago. I will be attending New York University’s MFA studio program this Fall. For now, I am working on sculptures that play with combining geometric structures and organic body parts.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you all so much for reading the interview and pay interests in my works. And thank you, Kate, for creating an unique community for emerging artists world wide.
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