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Art & Life with Noah Chang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Noah Chang.

Noah, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been surrounded by art since as long as I can remember. My dad is an artist and professor, so some of my earliest memories are being propped up in his studio or office, surrounded by the oaky smell of paint and old books, or being dragged around to LACMA, or the Getty, or Bergamot Station to see some work.

Sometimes he’d get really excited about an artist or a show and start smiling like a kid in a candy store walking around the gallery, as I, an actual kid, decidedly not in a candy store, tailed impatiently; I couldn’t find anything all that interesting about these musty old pieces.

Regardless, I clearly inherited that bone. Around sixteen, I took an interest in fine art; this is around the same time I started seriously considering art as a career. I began participating in a slew of programs at CalArts, Otis, Art Center, SAIC, the Oxbow School. The world of art was opening up to me inch by inch, and with that exposure I built a set of tools with which I could discuss and investigate the ideas and concepts I had floating around in my head. I’m still very young, still very inexperienced; every year I learn a whole lot more.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I have work in sculpture, installation, video, and various two-dimensional media. I enjoy pieces that decontextualize ideas and reconstruct them, obfuscate language and form, present a complex intersection or concept, especially an existential one, in a way that allows the viewer to imagine themselves and their own interpretation of it in conjunction with the piece. A lot of my work stems from an examination of being or God, and much of it is informed by research, pulled concepts from philosophy, sociology, anthropology, theology. Currently I’m pursuing graphic design as an undergraduate major at CalArts, a significant departure from the kind of work I’ve made previously. I have no idea where this next step will evolve my practice, and that’s definitely a good thing.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
The role of artists is always changing, has always been in a state of flux. The first of whom I would consider “artists” were scholars of their time, inventing symbolic ways of communication with a visual language. Artists then became employees of the church and state, a resource through which powerful institutions could express their wealth and authority. Then they became artists who tried to capture the beauty of the world through gorgeously rendered representations of it.

Then they became artists who tried to capture the beauty of the world by making work that could interface directly with a viewer’s ability to perceive and construct meanings from abstraction. Now, I would say the best art of this generation is most akin to a kind of philosophy. We as artists find interesting ideas or phenomena and investigate them, putting forth into the world representations of how we process them for the purpose of stimulating viewers and trying to make them think about things, or even calling them to action. Ai Wei Wei is a wonderful example of this.

Most of this, I believe, has caused the global community to begin reevaluating how we digest ideas like categories, traditional ethics, and the tension between the past, present, and future expectations of where we as a species have, are, and will find ourselves. In this space, I think the role of people who can mindfully push the boundaries of thought is going to continue changing in a very interesting way.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I’ll be participating in a small group exhibit at the MAIN Gallery in Newhall from December 11 to January 9. Other than that, you can view my work via social media.

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Image Credit:
Noah Chang

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