Susan M B Chen

Region: MFA Annual


City / State: New York City, NY

My current paintings respond to the lack of Asian American representation in portraiture within modern and contemporary Western art institutions. I question the idea of visibility, or invisibility—who is remembered in history, and who is forgotten. Believing that figurative work has the ability to empower one’s sense of self-worth, and with Asian Americans living in a society that rarely shows their faces in everyday media, I set out to paint these portraits as efforts to help a community feel like they belong to a greater social conversation.

The sitters from my portraits are usually strangers I find on various Asian American social media groups on the Internet. Through painting, I am able to informally survey members of my community to better understand the psychology of race, and the varying viewpoints my sitters have on ideas of home, immigration, prejudice, identity, family, longing, love, and loss.