I am a 26 year old oil and mixed media artist named Lauren Hana Chai. I'm originally from Hawaii, went to art school in San Francisco, received a couple awards from AAU's annual Spring Show, and have shown in exhibitions in numerous cities in California and Texas. I am currently living in Austin, Texas but I'M returning to my home, Hawaii, is in the near future.
I think Asia's major role in art is to preserve and continue to share their culture, and not just share their past but also the present as it is ever changing at a fast speed. Many Asian countries are nationalistic so keeping those cultures alive, expressing the people of those societies and connecting and sharing it with the world seems like the major role for Asian art in my opinion.
The USA has a large mix of art, just as the people here are all mixed together. NY of course is top in the contemporary modern art scene, the west likes things a bit more conservative. Within all of the country you could find some beautiful art by immigrants or kids of immigrants, as well as some amazing art of Americana.
I started drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, really. It was a form of escapism and expression as communicating through art was always much easier for me than speaking. I did a lot of Photoshop paintings when I was in high school, and originally studied Illustration for 3 years, until I decided that I'd rather create art that I wanted to create instead of what a client tells me to.
Unless I'm interested, it just doesn't come out right!
The mixed media brings together different elements which is a reflection of my identity, a clash of traditional and modern, eastern and western. I paint issues such as taboo, feminism, sexuality, violation and oppression. I also explore the abstract Korean cultural innate trait called "Han". Aesthetically it is brightly colored, collage style work.
The Artifact Series is about using traditional items such as the hanging scrolls or the folding screen and painting my modern day interpretation. The hanging scrolls show the juxtaposition of the traditional representation of the Asian female with the modern day interpretation. All the models are my friends that I know personally in order to have their identity represented as an Asian American woman of today and capture the essence of who they are beyond their heritage.
The folding screen which is called byungpoong (병풍) in Korean is used as a part of a ritual honoring one's dead ancestors. I took this and painted Korean comfort women who are the women and young girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial army before and during WWII. Most of the women were from occupied countries in Korea, China and the Philippines as well as some occupied territories. This painting is to honor the comfort women, keeping their story alive and told. I will be making a video art of myself actually performing the ritual with this screen in the future.
This series was an experimentation as I've never worked with building these scrolls or fans or screens before. I'm not used to being an exacting person which is a very important skill to have in making these things so it was very difficult for me. It made me have an even greater appreciation for the artists who have and do create these actual artifacts as it is a beautiful craft that requires years of practice.