INTERPOLATION // Sophia Chai – PERSONAL RECORD // Hannah E. Brown // 3.6.20 – 5.1.20

Hannah E. BrownPersonal Record || Sophia Chai Interpolation — concurrent solo art exhibitions of new drawing, photography, and installation at HAIR+NAILS opening March 6, 2020. HAIR+NAILS previously exhibited Brown’s ballpoint pen drawing at the NADA Invitational Art Fair in Chicago in 2019. This was her first show at H+N MPLS. Chai’s early polaroid photography of studio set-ups is currently exhibited in H+N’s group show FUTURE FUTURE. Her first solo show in the gallery ran concurrently with her solo show “Sight Lines” at Rochester Art Center. Fontaine and Van Loon are thrilled to have brought these artists together under one roof. The two artists each take a highly personal stance on the representation of the female body (often their own) and meticulously-constructed settings: gridded/architectural, blossoming, scratchy.

In the artists’ own words:
Hannah E. Brown:
“The images I create function as my tool for capturing the darkness and lightness in the human experience; as well as the difficult and unexplainable moments that nuance our lives. I am drawn to vivid contrast, which manifests in my practice and motifs that come forth in my work. My art is heavily influenced by narrative and emotion; addressing themes such as body image, sexuality, relationships, and loneliness.
I primarily draw using ballpoint pen on paper. In my drawing practice I am interested in images that are intimate and vulnerable, focusing on the nude form typically with as little reference as possible. Working in this style is tedious and meditative, which allows me to invest in a level of detail that creates my own reality within the image.”
“‘Personal Record’ is a collection of work created in 2019 and 2020. This collection highlights figure drawing; my focus is to draw bodies that look like mine, using as little reference as possible. This practice helps me analyze the perception of my body, representing my identity and its surrounding forces through visual motifs that are sometimes vague, and sometimes very direct. It is frequently presumed my drawings represent a feminine energy, however, a goal of mine in presenting these nude forms is to invite the viewer to acknowledge, but also see past that. I enjoy experiencing the world as a woman, but find solace in my art practice where this concept can rest.

My process is very simple, starting with an outlined graphite sketch which I fill in using a ballpoint pen. Aesthetically, my intention is to activate the whole page; it’s important for me to use the negative space with equal priority to spaces which are filled with detail or blacked out completely. For this body of work, I was particularly interested in inventing a light source in each image that resembled a flash photograph. Pattern was another interest of mine in these drawings; I wanted to replicate patterns and textures I find I am lured to and surround myself with in my daily life.
The purpose of making this work for me has been mainly therapeutic. The time and focus required to create a drawing using a ballpoint pen can feel extreme. In doing this, my work becomes deeply personal and meditative; creating a space to process events, reflect on relationships, and consider my emotions. While I am working through these thoughts, I manifest them into an image of a person — allowing me to look those feelings in the eye, accept them, and move on. The people I draw, specifically in ‘Personal Record’, have gently guided me through the seasons of my life. They serve to help me understand my capacity for vulnerability, while comforting me all at once.”

Sophia Chai:
“’Interpolation’ is comprised of a new body of photographs, all completed in 2020, and other elements, presented within an installation that echoes my studio practice with which the photographs are made.
I made all the photographs in this exhibition in my studio space in Rochester, MN, which is essentially an empty garage space. I spent time looking at this well-worn space, noticing certain architectural details of the room, especially where the conjoining walls came together to draw a line and to form a 3-dimensional volume. The jagged edges along the seams of the floor and the uneven texture spoke to me as records of history, touch, and senses, however banal they seemed initially. In fact, that banality beckoned me to look and listen closer. The photographs were made serially, going from one composition to the next. Sometimes I used found material in the studio, like the plastic wrapped foam core and sometimes I would insert an element in response to a shape that I had painted the previous week. There was always a lot of back and forth between what I saw with my naked eyes and through the lens of my analog view camera. The intention was to unravel a hidden geometry or an internal logic.
Looking, for me, has become a way to attend and to devote. Any object, any surface, however minute, unspoken they may be, when attended to, those objects start speaking a language, unshrouded from its previous state of silence.”

Artist bios:
Hannah E. Brown is a visual artist living in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2016, with a degree in Illustration. Currently

Sophia Chai is a Korean-American artist based in Rochester, MN. Before relocating to Rochester in 2017 from Brooklyn, NY, Chai has shown her work at various venues in New York City, including Trestle Projects, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Knockdown Center, A.I.R. Gallery, and TSA Gallery amongst others and a solo show at 106 Green Gallery. Chai is a 2019 recipient of the SEMAC (Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council) grant for advancing artists, a 2019/20 MCAD-Jerome Foundation Fellow for Early Career Artists and a 2020 MSAB (Minnesota State Arts Board) Artist Initiative grant awardee. Early this year Chai mounted her first solo exhibition in Minnesota at the Rochester Art Center. Chai received an M.F.A. in photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Project support provided by the Visual Arts Fund, administered by Midway Contemporary Art with generous funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York.

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