On the podcast, I frequently discuss balancing seasons of life with the artists I interview. We sometimes explore frustration, evolution, or the benefits of having our work adapt to life circumstances. Today’s episode is no exception as I discuss the rhythms of a year and even a lifetime with abstract painter Amy Chan. Amy is based in Richmond, Virginia, and received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work is in the collections of the Spencer Museum of Art and Capital One. She has received grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation and the Virginia Commission for the Arts and teaches at the University of Virginia.
We start our conversation discussing Amy’s childhood in a family of predominantly non-artists, and how because of this she learned to seek out her interests on her own. As an abstract painter working primarily in gouache with a deep love of paper, Amy leans into working on a smaller scale as a response to the parameters of these materials
Amy’s work is filled with abstract forms. She records shapes through sketches of objects she finds interesting, and then transforms them into something ambiguous that you can’t quite place. The colorful 90s aesthetic that permeates her paintings is filled with slight color dissonance. The almost recognizable forms and her use of color give rise to a body of work that is both playful and provocative.
Amy describes how having young children during the early pandemic lockdown led her to working on a 6 x 6 inch format in whatever time she could find, and how coming out on the other side of stringent Covid restrictions she was encouraged to explore ceramics by a master ceramicist. We discuss how these different modes of making are balanced throughout a typical year filled with the schedules of her young children and the demands of teaching.
We wrap up discussing the evolution of Amy’s practice, and how she had about 15 years working as an artist before becoming a mother. I really appreciated hearing about an experience so different from my own, and how Amy’s perspective has changed, how much she values taking care of herself, and how she defines success as a moving target that evolves throughout a lifetime. This attitude is an inspiration because as we know, more change is always to come.
Biggest Art Crush: Kathrine Bernhardt & Jennifer Bartlett
Dream Trip: Japan & Mountain Lake Biological Station
Film or book: Trilogy of the Rat /The Rat Series
Favorite meal: Noodles
Shoutout: Parents, Husband
To see more of Amy’s work please visit her website and follow her on IG @amychanartist
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn