Susan M B Chen

Region: MFA Annual


City / State: New York City, NY

I paint to investigate the poetics of space. A first-generation American and a millennial; I use dualities, portals, and the interior–exterior juxtaposition to touch on themes of displacement, dissonance, a search for belonging, and anxieties framed by the digital world. These imaginary, whimsical escapes situated outside the window suggest a sense of longing: an “I am here, but I’d rather be there” kind of feeling—much like Matisse’s window paintings from his time in the south of France. I am further influenced by the daily postings of “altered realities” by my peers on social media.

The use of windows as subtle framing devices hints at the omnipresent laptop monitors that we subconsciously allow to dominate our everyday lives. We are constantly offered the potential fulfillment of desires and escapism via windows into another world. The inside–outside similarly echoes this duality of space in which my generation exists, one containing both our online, outer selves and our actual selves beyond the digital screen.