Look right now and you will see
we're only here by the skin of our teeth as it is
so take heart and take care of your link with Life and
Oh, carry it on
— Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Carry It On”)
Anna Kaplan Contemporary is pleased to announce Matter, a solo show presenting a new body of work by Millie Chen. Matter opens on Thursday, February 21st with a reception 6-9 pm and remain on view through April 5, 2019. There will be an artist talk in the gallery (1250 Niagara St., Bufalo) on Thursday, March 28th at 6pm. Gallery hours are Wednesday - Friday 11am - 3pm, or Saturday - Tuesday by appointment (contact Anna at 716-604-6183, or by email at [email protected]).
Matter focuses on a body of work created in the past year, following the death of Chen’s mother. Included are works on paper and clayboard with abstract imagery created entirely of partially used cosmetics found in Chen’s mother’s home during the process of organizing and clearing her belongings. Chen has created geometries in these works that serve as supporting structures for the messy, indescribable, emotional miasma of death and loss, excess and paucity. Faced with the dilemma of what to do with the matter that remains, Chen embarked on a journey of documentation, photographing anachronistic everyday objects before she gave them away, disposed of them, kept them— or used them. Chen explains:
When I sorted through my mother’s makeup, I felt a profound urge to make use of this matter as drawing media, and to keep drawing with this matter until all of the makeup was consumed. Using up the makeup was an act of transformation for me, a way of documenting and contemplating my mother’s everydayness. My mother never went out or received visitors without putting on, at the very least, lipstick and eyebrow liner— these tools allowed her to create an optimistic public face. In going through the overwhelming matter left behind, I began to experience an anxiety of optimistic objects, not only pertaining to the loss of my mother, but also to what matters in how I continue to live.
What is the matter we need to hang onto after we lose a loved one? What physical objects are needed to connect us in meaningful ways to each other, both during life and through memories? How do we deal with the onerous accumulation of stuff in our lives? After death, the things we accumulated in life are signs of our belief in a brighter future, and they become informative archives of human existence; but they can also so easily become a ball and chain, evidence of a deluded certainty in endless consumption. As Chen herself grapples with this paradox of emotion, we witness through her work as she embarks on a process of letting go and of finding peace in the finite.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Millie Chen’s visual, audio and performative works are intended to interrupt habits of viewing. Her artwork has been shown across North and South America, East Asia and Europe at venues and festivals such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Centre Culturel Canadien in Paris, Centro Nacional des las Artes in Mexico City, the Power Plant in Toronto, The Contemporary Austin, Shanghai Expo, Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, and Toronto Nuit Blanche, and FILE-Rio: Electronic Language International Festival, Rio de Janeiro. She is currently working in collaboration with Arzu Ozkal on a relational audio-video project, Silk Road Songbook, which integrates songs with landscapes, re-tracing one of the major arteries of the Eurasian trade routes by facilitating the creation of grass roots songs that channel local voices of resilience and determination. Her work is in several public collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, University of Colorado Art Museum, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Art Bank of Canada Council for the Arts, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Toronto Transit Commission, and she has produced a number of major permanent public art commissions. Her writing has appeared in publications in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and China. Chen is a Professor in the Department of Art, University at Buffalo. This is the third solo show hosted by Anna Kaplan Contemporary. Chen’s last solo show, Prototypes 1970s (Nov 3 - Dec 17, 2016) presented a series of ten works that were all acquired by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
ABOUT ANNA KAPLAN CONTEMPORARY
Anna Kaplan Contemporary is formerly BT&C Gallery (Body of Trade & Commerce Gallery), founded in 2013 and on Niagara Street in Buffalo since June of 2014. annakaplancontemporary.art for more information. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@annakaplancontemporary @annarkaplan). Anna Kaplan Contemporary is also a part of the art consultancy Resource:Art, (resourceartny.com). Resource:Art is a unique collaboration with two other WNY gallerists, Elisabeth Samuels (Indigo Art) and Emily Tucker (Benjaman Gallery Group). Browse Anna Kaplan Contemporary and Resource:Art exhibitions at Artsy (through Resource:Art): https://www.artsy.net/resource-art.