Art | November 9, 2023 |

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Image courtesy of Suyu Chen

Featured Artist
Suyu Chen

Luca Curci talks with Suyu Chen and explores her artistic talent.

“My jewelry works are fueled by the challenge of transforming plastic industrial materials into captivating jewelry pieces. The work mainly utilized PVC pipe, sterling silver, and resin with fabrication, bending, soldering, and layering color processes. My practice in traditional metalsmithing and contemporary jewelry design has empowered me to craft pieces that blur the lines between adornment and mass production, fashion, and sustainability. It is a game between objects and myself – by keeping using the same artifact as a basic module, variation and transformation of forms have no end; All feeling and thinking will reveal on the surface subtly through layered painting and sanding with honest mistake and imperfection. My work aims to change the viewer’s perception of objects and materials through observation.”

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Image courtesy of Suyu Chen

Originally from the south of China, Suyu Chen is currently living and working in Rochester, New York as an adjunct faculty and a contemporary jewelry artist. She holds a MFA degree from Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY). Her works are inspired by her personal experiences of living in different places and relationships of her cultural background. Through repetitive experimental explorations of alternative materials and fine metal practices, her works got unique consequences and forms.

Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Suyu Chen –
I am currently working on a jewelry project that repurposes used everyday objects like toys and wooden furniture parts to create wearable art. This project builds upon my previous work, which primarily involved using PVC pipes as a medium.

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Image courtesy of Suyu Chen

LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
– I have practiced in fine arts over a decade since my bachelor’s study at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in China. I pursed a Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry & Metals at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. The experience that has had the most significant influence on my work is undoubtedly my extensive participation in exhibitions and artist residency opportunities that have arisen from them, such as Brussels Jewelry Week in Belgium and New York City Jewelry Week. Each exhibition has been a unique learning experience, pushing me to explore new concepts, materials, and techniques. Moreover, these exhibitions have opened doors to various awards, grants, and residencies that have further shaped my artistic journey. For instance, being selected out of a pool of hundreds to be an artist residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts has been particularly influential. These recognitions not only validate my work but also fuel my motivation to keep pushing the boundaries of contemporary jewelry design.

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Image courtesy of Suyu Chen

LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your works?
SC –
One of the most challenging aspects of completing my works lies in the collaboration and communication when working with galleries and institutions. For example, during my solo exhibition in Finland, titled “A Study of snow“, I had to navigate the intricacies of coordinating with the gallery, curators, and organizer. This included discussions about exhibition layout, promotional materials, and the overall presentation of my work. Like all other exhibitions, maintaining a clear and productive dialogue with galleries can be demanding, as it is important to ensure my work and vision is effectively conveyed in the spaces. The challenge also extends to logistical aspects, such as shipping internationally. Nevertheless, I was honor to be chosen to host a solo exhibition at Taidekeskus Itä, Lappeenranta, Finland, as the only Chinese artist in the Galleria Riutta that year and the exhibition turn out great and was successful. I am glad I could bring my works overseas from US to Europe after a half-year preparation. Overcoming these challenges has been an essential part of my growth as an artist, and it has taught me valuable skills in project management and collaboration.

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Image courtesy of Suyu Chen

LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
SC – Seeing my work completed, on display in an exhibition and be worn is an incredibly gratifying and fulfilling experience. It is incredibly rewarding to witness the audience’s reactions and interactions with my jewelry during the major shows and events, such as American Craft Made/Baltimore organized by American Craft Council, Here & Now in NYC Jewelry Week. Observing people engaged with my work, whether through wearing it or simply curious about it, adds another layer of satisfaction. It reinforces my belief that jewelry is a powerful form of artistic expression that can connect with people on a personal and emotional level.

LC – Is there an unrealised or unrealisable project, even a crazy one, that you would like to work on?
SC –
Certainly, I have a couple jewelry projects involves repurposing discarded industrial materials into wearable sculptures. I am hoping to make a large-scale work, encompassing the wearer with repurposed materials. The project’s challenges lie in material sourcing, craftsmanship, sustainability and ensuring comfort for the wearer. I am hoping my future projects would carry environmental message, highlighting the potential for beauty and creativity in repurposing discard man-made materials.

more. www.suyuchen.com

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Image courtesy of Suyu Chen

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