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Memory Prints: The Story World of Phillip Chen

Memory Prints is a solo exhibition by Phillip Chen, an artist and printmaker from the Midwest.

September 25, 2014 12:00am to March 1, 2015 12:00am

Curated by John Kuo Wei Tchen

In fifteen relief etchings about his family, Chen reckons with significant moments in Chinese American history. These prints unearth the emotional landscape of an American family’s many generations’ possible futures and pasts. The suffocating terrain of the Exclusion era, of the racial violence and marginalization, are also felt and made palpable, personal. What are its ongoing legacies? These time/space prints are knotted like a traveling griot’s memory. At once pained, calmed, hot, cooled, jagged, refined, transmuted—these haunted historical visions are the alchemy of a master printmaker.

One print is inspired by the story of his great grandfather, a gold miner in California during the Gold Rush in the 1860s, who needed to sever his queue during an underwater fishing dive to save his own life. Another is based on his uncle who owned the only restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana that served African Americans in the 1930s. The constellation of inherited objects and etchings produces a psychic space where the interrelationships between object and image, and history and memory, are explored.


Phillip Chen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and his master of fine arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work in print media has been exhibited in over one hundred and fifty locations nationally and internationally and is held by public collections that include the Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, and Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing. He has served as an evaluator for College Art Association, National Endowment for the Arts, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is a recipient of the prestigious Louis B. Comfort Tiffany Award.


This exhibition is held in conjunction with the program Unearthing the Story World of Phillip Chen.