Hui-ju Chen (Mickey)

Hui-ju Chen (Mickey) graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996. Even though she has not been using art and design as her main profession, she has kept her passion of making art until today. Along with her teaching job at Shantou University, she always finds time to create various styles of work. It is interesting to see how her work has varied from photography to acrylic painting to mixed-media to collage. She hopes to keep being experimental because she believes that, in the art world, there are no real errors but different thoughts and processes with different outcomes. Without experimentation, she feels, art is not art. She gets inspiration from different aspects of life. She always hopes to learn and create different kinds of work by making use of her own different life experiences. 

It is normal to have lots of frustrations and doubts as one goes through the phases of creation. For Mickey, the biggest frustration has been the temptation and pressure to build and keep up one particular style in order to be a professional artist. Though it is true that a dedication to one style may enable one to come a little closer to perfection in that style, Mickey feels that art is about taking risks. If she is satisfied with one style, she believes that she loses a very important quality of art--the excitement of experiencing different things in the world. Therefore, she hopes to continue working in different ways and experimenting with different styles. Art making, for her, is not just a way to express herself but a way to define her existence.

Artist Essay

Art has been tricky in my life. When I take it seriously, it disappoints me and tricks me. I have spent my life wondering what art is about. When I try to ignore it, it sneaks into my head and comes back to me. Therefore, I have been going back and forth making art and discarding art. I almost always have a full time job in order to get away from art to live a “normal” life. However, it seems impossible to divorce and withdraw myself from art making completely. 

I always have doubts about the real and the abstract. Am I supposed to capture the real form of the real world? What is reality anyway? When people define the word “abstract,” it is made to seem like something hard to understand and something impossible to grab. To me, the truth about the abstract is lying underneath everything and everywhere. My current project is about trying to cultivate the idea of “abstract.” I have heard some comments about my work: everything you do is rather abstract! Really? Wow! Does that mean what I see and hear are rather abstract? In fact, I usually feel that reality is such a façade that it traps our minds into thinking that everything is supposed to be real. Underneath the skin of reality, there are feelings and emotions floating around as abstract/real as they can be. In my current project, I have been trying to grasp certain elements in reality and certain moods in my head, hoping to create some mixture of visual impact. Some say that paintings are dead. However, images have not disappeared in life. Instead, images have become even more vivid and vibrant nowadays. Regardless of the medium, images are our daily life necessity. Therefore, the so-called “abstract” is not at all abstract.

I have been going to different art classes and talking to different artists to share ideas. In real life, I am trying to accumulate appropriate materials to create more work for this “abstract” series. I would like to keep up my experimental spirit and create different visual presentations. If I receive a grant, I would love to push this series to another art exhibition; at the same time, I would love to publish this series of abstract art. To me, art is personal and therapeutic. It is a way to destroy and reconstruct myself. Every piece of work I make provides a possibility of myself-reborn. My creations have not been anything like ground-breaking pieces of work; rather, they are moments of my life. My work has been more like my own personal journal, a documentary of my own world. I wish to share this secret garden of mine with people with the same and different experiences.  

   Artist Statement

ART is a way to connect and disconnect with the whole world.  There is a way to reach out to people by expressing my real self and be real me, which is to make ART.  I can be 100% honest to myself and to others; I can show how I feel without too much of elaboration; I can decide and control in my own world.  Sometimes words and speeches get in the way.  Art helps me to meditate and observe.  ART is no longer a “want-to-do”, but a “got-to-do” in life.  I need them to support my own existence.  It is to say, “My work has defined me”.  There is no need for me to speak up, to shout and to scream out loud.  ART shows me a way out in life, and it follows me everywhere I go.  My work has given me a passport to my own world and to reach out others’ world.

Hui-ju Chen (Mickey) graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996. Even though she has not been using art and design as her main profession, she has kept her passion of making art until today. Along with her teaching job at Shantou University, she always finds time to create various styles of work. It is interesting to see how her work has varied from photography to acrylic painting to mixed-media to collage. She hopes to keep being experimental because she believes that, in the art world, there are no real errors but different thoughts and processes with different outcomes. Without experimentation, she feels, art is not art. She gets inspiration from different aspects of life. She always hopes to learn and create different kinds of work by making use of her own different life experiences.

It is normal to have lots of frustrations and doubts as one goes through the phases of creation. For Mickey, the biggest frustration has been the temptation and pressure to build and keep up one particular style in order to be a professional artist. Though it is true that a dedication to one style may enable one to come a little closer to perfection in that style, Mickey feels that art is about taking risks. If she is satisfied with one style, she believes that she loses a very important quality of art--the excitement of experiencing different things in the world. Therefore, she hopes to continue working in different ways and experimenting with different styles. Art making, for her, is not just a way to express herself but a way to define her existence.

Education: 

Shih Chien College (Taiwan):  1987-1992 (Graphic Design, BFA)

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago: 1994-1996 (Fine Arts, BFA)

University of Birmingham: 2009-2011 (TEFL/TESL, MA)

University of Hertfordshire: 2014-present (MA in Creative Arts)

Exhibitions: 

1992 Taipei World Trade Center. *group show

Paducah 1995, Yeiser Art Center. Paducah, Kentucky (USA). *group show

1996 The Art Institute of Chicago. *group show

2003 Instituto Cultural Peruano-NorteAmericano. Chiclayo, Perú. *solo show

2007 TEC de Monterrey. Culiacán, México. *solo show

2007 La Casa de Cultura. Culiacán, México. *solo show

2007 Bistro Miró Café. Culiacán, México. *solo show

2008 Galería José Luis Cuevas. Culiacán, México. *solo show

2011 TEC de Monterrey. Culiacán, México. *solo show

2013 Instituto MIA. Culiacán, México. *solo show

2015 Shantou University. Guangdong, China. *solo show

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