Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandra Chiou.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I studied business and studio art in college, specifically concentrating in oil painting. I loved oil painting, but after graduating, was working out of my apartment with limited storage space, so I switched to acrylic and started working smaller. Eventually, I found myself painting on paper rather than canvas. My transformation from working in 2D to more dimensional paintings was by chance. I always had an affinity for sculpture and thought about how to create dimension with paper. I remember cutting up sheets of paper one day and stacking them on top of one another and thinking there was something there worth investigating. Shortly after, I was fortunate enough to be able to further explore and refine these ideas during a residency program in Maryland. That was an important transition point in my career when I felt like I had found my artistic voice, and here I am still creating hand-cut works on paper and collages today.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I am originally from Virginia and lived in DC for many years, so coming here to LA was a big adjustment for me. I had a lot of major life changes the year I moved, and it took me a long time to settle in and find my place and a sense of community in this massive city. During this period, I began to explore this idea of unchartered territories and terrains as symbols for hope, opportunity and new beginnings. I saw these signs in the night sky at Joshua Tree, in the horizon line on the beach, and in the vastness of the desert landscape. Investigating these concepts in my art was therapeutic for me, and allowed me to find serenity and calm and feel more at home. And I hope that viewers of my work can also find peace and calm as they face any important life decisions and changes.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I create hand-cut dimensional and sculptural works on paper that walk the line between the natural and imagined infinite dream worlds. In these pieces, I explore themes of unchartered territories and terrains as symbols of hope, opportunity and new beginnings. My interest in these concepts stems from my fascination with evolving landscapes, and likewise, our individual transformations and personal journeys. More specifically, I draw on my personal experiences moving to LA, as well as from my family history, as my parents overcame many challenges to make new lives for themselves in the US.
These concepts of histories, cycles, memories and transformations are intriguing to me. I investigate these themes in my latest pieces by creating intricate symbols and imagery synonymous with maps, constellations, fingerprints and tree rings, which all allude to our unique and personal evolutions and journeys. Likewise, many images are also reminiscent of budding flowers, rising suns, things awakening, and ultimately, the beginning of something new and promising. I acknowledge and embrace the uncertainty that we face, whether that’s straying from familial or societal expectations, discovering new passions, or uprooting to a new city or country, and celebrate hope, optimism and possibilities as we create and chart our life stories.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
After moving here and feeling more settled in LA, I have found a vibrant and motivating community of artists, with many cultural organizations and institutions committed to supporting emerging artists as well as groups and communities historically underrepresented in the arts. My art has grown a lot since moving here, and I am constantly inspired by exhibits at various galleries and museums, the beauty of the Southern California landscape, and the kind and generous people I have met.
Jonathan Timmes, Alexandra Chiou (artist)