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Meet Rachelle Chuang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachelle Chuang.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I have been very blessed with a creative childhood and opportunities ever since. Growing up, my sister Celest and I would spend hours in creative adventures such as playing in our beautiful backyard in Goleta, CA and making imaginary “kingdoms” with our stuffed animals. They were really mini societies complete with kings, queens, currency, shops and schools. This is probably the start of why I love the paper arts. We would draw currency and tickets, make books for our stuffed animal schools and design many other paper-based items. I can’t say I was great at drawing, but I enjoyed color, paper and being creative.

My parents graciously supported my creative endeavors by taking me to art lessons along the way. In school, I was the yearbook editor, which introduced me to graphic design. Since it was pre-computer those days, I learned to paste-up materials to create yearbook pages and I still retain a love for physically putting things together. I became a graphic design major at Biola University.

Fast forward to years later when I discovered hand papermaking, letterpress printing and bookmaking at Pyramid Atlantic in Maryland. I was so intrigued by the combination of making various types of paper, setting type to print on the sheets and binding them into books. I had the great privilege of getting my MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from UARTS in Philadelphia.

Since moving back to my native OC, I’ve been teaching various art and graphic design classes at several colleges in the area. I enjoy empowering students and helping them achieve their goals. I’ve also curated shows, exhibited my work, and hosted “letterpress print slams” in my garage. My current work is mixed media collage, which picks up on my early love of paper and putting things together by hand. I view all of these art experiences and opportunities as given by God and I am humbly grateful.

Please tell us about your art.
I’ve delved into all kinds of art forms such as collage, handmade paper sculptures, printmaking and artist books. My current mixed-media work is the result of experimentation and chance, using four things that I love: paper, print, collage and color. Full sheets of heavyweight paper are uniquely printed from antique wood type, cut into strips and collaged onto wood panels. Thick layers of epoxy resin are used to coat each work, resulting in brilliant, lively colors that show natural mark making from relief printing as well as overprinted color shapes. Since then, I’ve been experimenting with modern digital printing on various surfaces such as acrylic and rugs. I consider this series a demonstration of creative color play. I hope that every viewer engages in an enjoyable, visually saturated experience.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
I completely understand this question as I could hide out happily in my “art cave” garage for days without seeing anyone. There are certainly times for high focus and solitude as an artist. However, we all need community and even more so in our technological society. Art can truly bring people together which is why I choose to emphasize the educational/participatory aspect of my art forms collage and letterpress printing. Collage is inherently accessible and easy to do. Adults and kids love it. I also host letterpress printing “slams” occasionally where people set wood type and print posters. It’s thrilling for me to introduce my excitement for antique wood type, getting it on press and printing posters one at a time on my two Vandercook-4 presses named “Jot” and “Tittle.” In both processes, the physicality of the art form is emphasized which I find relaxes and engages people as a break from their digital lives. All this to say, I encourage artists to share their work with others. It can be on social media but also in person. Give the gift of yourself, your passion for your art form, be transparent and authentic, share your successes and failures and empower others through arts education. If you are grateful and generous, you will make connections not only with other artists but also with all kinds of people who can benefit.

Formally, there are so many opportunities in Southern CA to connect with other artists from galleries, museums, classes, non-profit arts organizations and online communities. Your artistic “tribe” is definitely out there. I’m very eclectic, which makes sense for a collage artist. A few of my “tribes” where I’ve connected with other like-minded creatives are the UPPERCASE magazine community, the Los Angeles Printers Fair, Saddleback Visual Arts, at design conferences like Adobe Max, and in the academic departments at the four colleges I teach at presently.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work is online at colorbliss.studio. I have to confess that viewing my art online is not the ideal experience since they are large, shiny and immerses a viewer’s field of vision in saturated colors. The mark making gets a bit lost at small sizes online. I have exhibited my work in various shows (including the Festival of the Arts, where I met the lovely Lesli Bonanni also featured here on this site) and non-profit settings. I’m grateful that my work has been purchased and installed in personal homes and office spaces.

If you want to learn more about letterpress printing, which is the way I print, you can take classes at Art Center Pasadena, Otis College of Art and Design in LA and the Irvine Fine Arts Center in OC, where I helped set up their letterpress studio.

Also I have the great privilege of curating “Ink on Paper: A Letterpress Showcase” in June 2020 at the OC Great Park Gallery in Irvine.: https://www.cityofirvine.org/orange-county-great-park/exhibitions. You will see contemporary approaches to the art of letterpress printing from national and international artists and printers, as well as a historic press timeline from the International Printing Museum.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
UPPERCASE Compendium photo provided by Janine Vangool

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