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Inked: BioSci and VADA senior, Kira Chen

Photo credit: Christina Tan

By Sunny Liu     11/7/18 12:05am

Wiess College senior Kira Chen sees art as a way to explore the concepts of light and space. Her art studio has multiple shades of black, consisting of both modern ink and traditional Chinese paintings. Chen says her biggest artist inspirations are Chinese painter Li Cheng for his grand landscape paintings and minimalist artist Kitty Kraus for her kinetic sculptures of light and ink. When it comes to her own creative process, Chen said her favorite medium to work with is ink.

“There’s a certain amount of trust you have to put into [ink] because it does its own thing,” Chen said. “Half the time, you’re trying to do something and it doesn’t work out. I find that if I get too frustrated with it, then it turns out really bad. If I put my will into it and let it do its own thing, then it turns out right — most of the time.”

According to Chen, a huge influence on her interest in Chinese painting was her childhood experience with the style.

“In middle school and high school, I very much identified as American and I didn’t want to associate myself with my culture,” Chen said. “I only got into Chinese painting because I thought it was cool, not necessarily because it was something from my heritage that I wanted to come back to. Over the course of college, I started regretting not connecting with my background. That’s when I started taking art history classes and language courses and reconnecting back with where my parents are from, and with a language that I almost lost.”

On Chen’s desk is a piece created from black and red inks that seem to form the shape of dark clouds on white. Chen said it is her first alcohol ink piece.

“I kind of started out in one corner and pushed the ink so that it covered certain surface areas,” Chen said. “It was kind of random but also not — I had a vague idea of what I wanted the composition to be like. I like a lot of negative space. I don’t like to cover up the entire space in ink.”

After finishing her degrees in biological sciences and visual and dramatic arts, Chen plans on pursuing a career in dentistry, to which she believes she will be able to apply the precision skills she has gained as a VADA student.

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