AROUND THE BLOK. VOL. 16 - Vincent Chung
The art exhibit Linear Notes was the first time I heard about Vincent Chung. The moment I saw his work, I knew we needed to have him as our next Around the Blok artist. Originally from New York, Chung came to Arizona to complete his BS degree at Arizona State University. Since being here, he's been gaining significant attention in the local art scene. You can view his work at the Mountain Shadows Resort gallery until August 31st and keep up with him on Instagram at vincentkchung. We're gracious to have Vincent sit with us for this segment of ATB!
Tell us about yourself?
Well for starters I am originally from New York City. I moved around quite a bit as a kid, spent a short moment of my childhood in Brooklyn then moved to Manhattan. I grew up mostly in the lower east side, and I think this played a big role in my life on becoming the person I am today. When you ask New Yorkers about the lower east side, you get the grit, you get culture. You get neighborhood kids with big goals and dreams. I always grew up around art and design. My mother was a seamstress who worked in factories, mass-producing designer dresses, and freaking sports jackets. My father was a furniture maker and a phenomenal artist. He’s what I call a traditional artist, always drawing up birds and animals to the detail. He had to give up his creative side to provide for the family, my brother, and I. The moment I realized that, I always told myself to never give up on what I want to do. I mean, you ask my friends, when I say I want to do something I will, by any means, make it happen even if the idea sounds crazy or even impossible at the time. Getting into art was not easy for me. My family are immigrants, and being a first-generation born here, you’re often told to pick up something sustainable; like being a doctor or some job that involves being in an air conditioned environment when its scorching hot out. I always loved working with my hands, and that was something I wanted to pursue even if it just meant to get by. My father always told me health over wealth. For me, creating art is something that allows me to help people see the truth.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve always loved the potential of a narrative in a painting. You’ll see in my work that I sew textiles together, whether its canvas, linen, or dyed fabrics. To me, that is my way of telling a story, because every piece is done at different moments; with different emotions, perspective, and energy. Almost like a hands-on visual journal that ultimately becomes this bigger picture at the end. But you know, it's hard to accept that your intentions don’t exist anymore the moment you show a piece for the world to judge. My work tackles several topics like emotional impact over time. I’ve always studied how colors affect mood. Something I've recently been experimenting and documenting is how these visuals and colors trigger my viewers' memories or get them to think about what they believe. They start to create a story of their own, and I just find it fascinating.
What benefit does art provide to society?
The era we live in now is far different from the period I grew up in. In this modern age, the digital age, we are all drawn to these technological devices in our hands. I call it the age of instant gratification. When we see something we’re not drawn to, it's so easy for us to swipe to the next screen or move on. So in my work, I confront this matter by exposing materials and mediums in their imperfect ways that begin to draw nature of the materiality to the foreground. People are so drawn to perfection that we often forget to celebrate the imperfect, something that drives us to be better than we were yesterday. I hope my audience see these imperfections in my paintings and change the way we value labor in today’s era.
What’s your advice to others chasing their dreams?
It’s cliche to say do not give up. Few of my friends showed me this commencement speech given by Jim Carey. Don’t quote me on it but it went a little something like this... You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail at what you don’t want, so why not take a chance at doing something you love? Do not be afraid. Often times we expect the rewards now and if not tomorrow, but who knows, maybe you’ll make it in a week, a month or even a year from now. There are so many people out there with the same dreams, goals, and aspirations as you and every day you are not working towards your dream, someone out there will beat you to it. All you really have to do is take it one step at a time but most importantly.. make that progress, take that new step every single day. It is not easy, and it’s never going to be easy. I will give credit to today's’ digital age on its’ capabilities that allows us to share content so easily. Just share it with the world. We’re all going to create or do something that doesn’t fill our satisfaction. Whether you’re creating bad or good work, you’re making something; and that something will make you better the next go around. Take advantage of modern technology, go reach out to your idols on social media or whomever you’re wanting advice from or do work with. The worst that can happen is you don’t get a response, makes it so much more satisfying when you make it.
What is your biggest inspiration and why?
My family, my friends back home, my friends here, who’ve become my surrogate family. Also my dog! I love my pup, Stella. She’s a great studio buddy. Everyone I surround myself with is so talented in their craft, and that drives me to continue creating. In a way, they’ve become my muse, and I thank each and every one of them for their continual support.
When you think of home, what comes to mind?
Home has a lot of different meanings. When I think of home, I think of good company, good food, family and great friends. Arizona and New York City are both my homes. I do miss the constant police sirens and people yelling out in the streets. After all these years I’m still getting used to the crickets at night. I’m just grateful to have people who support me with what I am doing. Makes it easier to call both these places my home.