A Conversation with Vincent Chung
Can you give us a bit of an overview as to how you began creating your work? I know there is an intersection happening with stitch, canvas, paint and neon.
There’s a lot of history behind the process of my work. I adopted the sewing machine from my mother who was a seamstress working in factories when she first moved to the States. As a kid, she would take me to her work after school, helping her change the threads, load up the machines, and carry bundles of designer dresses and jackets to other stations. These memories stuck with me growing up, and I decided to incorporate the same skills she used into my storytelling. This is told through each textile I work with, some of which take hours, days, or even weeks to complete. The act of sewing the pieces together is when the painting really comes alive for me.
Eventually I became fascinated with the juxtaposition of color and light, which I think stems from my interest in the unpredictable nature of life and embracing the imperfections. I would ask myself questions like ‘what causes changes in human emotions?’ and “what memories do people recall by looking at something as simple as a color?” Through this exploration neon came into play – not only does it create another dimension, but as time lapses throughout the day, so does your experience with the piece as natural light begins to dissipate. As the natural light fades, the glow from the painting intensifies; engulfing the room which creates a whole new space for the user(s). These sewn iconographies mixed with the radiance of the neon is my way of storytelling.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Your work incorporates iconography ranging from landscape to home scenes and is quite diverse – can you give us some more insight into this?
Inspiration is everywhere. I draw it from ordinary everyday life – the texture of material, to the color of an Arizona sunset.
What would you consider your “Signature Style”?
It’s the ability to experience two perspectives simultaneously. If you are viewing it from afar, it would have to be the combination of colors the afterglow emits. If you are viewing it up close, it would be the layered stitchwork, as you’ll be able to tell they’re all different pieces sewn together.
What’s one thing we can always find in your studio?
The essentials – headphones and speakers! I have to work with music. I’ve been listening to 90’s hip-hop a lot more recently. Given the current situation, it reminds me of home and makes me feel nostalgic.
In your statement, you say you are “Examining the imperfect” – can you give us an idea of how you feel your work reflects this? Is this a major theme throughout all your bodies of work?
Imperfection lies in the mark-making that is seen throughout all my pieces as I work mostly outdoors. Letting chance and the unpredictable happen. I work with mediums that have a life of their own; like dirt, debris, and cooking oil, and embrace the inherent lack of control.
Is all your work made outdoors – or do you find yourself in a studio setting more with the current isolation?
About 70% of the time I work outside. Neighbors passing by see me tossing my canvas, throwing dirt at it and I think I probably freak them out a bit. Given the current situation, I do find myself working more in the studio, and head out in the alley or driveway when mark making occurs.
How has your geographic location inspired you? Originally being from NYC but now working in Phoenix.
I spent the first 23 years of my life in New York City before moving to Phoenix. I wouldn’t say either geographic location inspires me more than the other. Both of these places, which I call home are vastly different, and the biggest takeaways are an understanding of and the utilization of space.
The idea of “confronting the preciousness” of traditional painting forms is fascinating – can you give us some more details as to how you decided to begin this thematic challenge?
We spoke about the layers of my work, the sewn textiles, various paints, and neon lights. The materials artists use are forgotten or never spoken of because we are often jumping to the final product, labeling what it is, not what it was. So I decided to confront the preciousness of traditional paintings by embracing the raw materials. In doing this, I purposely leave hanging threads, frays of ripped cotton and/or linen, exposing seams, and wires.