Monday, January 22, 2018

Meet An Artist - 100 Faces of Alicia Chen

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Faces are fascinating. Each face has several stories to their credit. Meeting her in Instagram was a happy accident at a time when I myself had caught up with the obsession of drawing and painting faces. I am captivated by the subtle nuances of each expression and the stories they hold within. It was when I found the same chord in the drawings of this particular artist that I decided to know more about her and her art. Her drawings are intense, expressing a never-die spirit and a warmth the people hold onto, veiled in melancholy vein . She is a Taiwanese artist engaged in drawing 100 faces called the 100 Faces Project. She has stories to tell of struggles, hardships, intense pain and sorrow ultimately overcoming these and attaining individual triumphs...a personal tale of life's adventurous journeys, crossing each obstacle and finally leaping with faith to hold onto life and loved ones. She is Alicia Chen.


Deepa Gopal Sunil: A little brief about yourself and your background.

Alicia Chen: I was born in Taiwan and became a new immigrant to Canada in 2015. My art journey started internationally from Taipei to Vancouver, New York to Toronto, where I currently reside. I spend much of my time collaborating and working with art professionals from recognizable institutions and building strong relationships within the art community. Based on my rich and unique life experiences as an artist, art educator, young business entrepreneur and curator, I create artworks cemented in the act of storytelling, showing unique capability for capturing the essence of my subjects. For me, art is a way of visually documenting my life through the connections I form and infusing it with meaning. Art is a way of evolving oneself and empowering the minority.
I am also an active curator in Toronto’s Asian Canadian communities involved in conducting and coordinating cultural events and film festivals between Taiwanese bureaucracy and Toronto-based charity and non-profit organizations where I aim to bring diversity together and to make social changes.

Alicia Chen-45/100-HuesnShades

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Each face has a story and you have put that so beautifully. How did you start this project? What’s the story behind it?

I started it in search of happiness and connecting with people in a new city. Surprisingly people like to share their stories, some are more enthusiastic than the others.

Do you meet each individual that you draw the portrait in person? Do you get to know them personally?

I meet most of them or I go through a deep conversation online.

How many faces have you done so far?

I have done 50/100 faces.

Favourite medium

Graphite, charcoal and pastels on paper.

Alicia Chen-28/100-HuesnShades

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Do these amazing people that you draw feel intimidated at any point of time when you say that you would like to share their story with their portrait?

A few have chosen just to share one line or two when they were not sure about being so open in the public.

What is your intention and motivation behind the 100 Faces project?

Hopelessness, isolation and disconnection lurk underneath the surface of everyday life. It is these core, but lesser vocalized human experiences that form the epicentre of my visual world, and serves as building blocks for my people-focused artistic studies. My works document the extraordinary personal histories of my subjects and translates them onto the page with painstaking detail. With each portrait, I probe the triumphs and struggles faced by everyday people in their everyday lives against the backdrop of a rapidly changing social landscape. The face being the most basic line of connection, ‘100 Faces’ project is an effort to depict the human face, as it really is, so that it can serve as a powerful mirror through which our internal states can be shared with others. In the course of my life, I’ve overcome tremendous hardships and as such have spent my life seeking out encounters with people whose lives are steeped in tales of personal growth. Invariably, I found that above all, it is our faces that wear these experiences— which conceal and reveal who we are in the profoundest of ways. Portrait by portrait, I try to uncover the history behind the lines and imperfections etched in their faces. I hope to do my part in constructing an honest reflection of Toronto’s rich and variegated contemporary political reality through this project.

Alicia Chen-38/100-HuesnShades

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Where do you want to take it? What is the next level?

´╝Ěhen it's done, I want to host a talk and invite my models as speakers.

How do you choose which person to draw/which story to portray?

I have chosen people who inspired me from all walks of life and all races.  Age 23 and up. No students. I'm especially drawn to people who overcame or found a way to deal with their struggles.

Alicia Chen-2/100-HuesnShades

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How do you think has this project helped to shape you eventually? Has there been an unconscious or conscious moulding in you – as a person, an artist, as a citizen or in any other way?

As a practicing artist, I've met some incredibly successful people who taught me to work with people, go with the flow and do things faster than waiting for it to happen. I've summed up what caused people's depression/anxiety and I try to avoid falling into that pattern. 

If it’s not intrusion, what is your next project?

As I'm evolving with the project, I can't say too much or predict too far ahead so let's see how it goes! My project is always centered on the topic of humanity. With the rapid growth of technology, I want to capture and document the trace of human.

Alicia Chen-26/100-HuesnShades
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Where all can my readers find you?

Alicia Chen-35/100-HuesnShades
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Portraits and description courtesy - Alicia Chen
I have photoshopped it into boxes for convenience of display here.

To read about other interesting artists and what they have to say click here.

1 comment:

Jai said...

An expressive face is always a delight to watch. The eyes which are the windows to the soul of a human being are always interesting. You know, I was once told by someone that it is important to have a relatively expressionless or poker face to be highly successful in life. This came from a classmate in IIT. Many people feel it is helpful, if others cannot read your mind. But somehow I am all for a face that tells a thousand tales. A face that expresses happiness, sorrow, mirth, anger and so on is an artist's delight. Thanks for introducing this artist in your post.