Susan Chen



My current paintings respond to the lack of Asian/Asian-American representation in portraiture within modern and contemporary Western art institutions. I want to question the idea of visibility, or invisibility – who is remembered in history, and who is forgotten. Believing that figurative work has the ability to empower one’s sense of self-worth, and with Asian Americans living in a society that rarely shows their faces in everyday media, I set out to paint these portraits as efforts to help a community feel like they belong to a greater social conversation. 


The sitters from my portraits are usually strangers who I find on various Asian American community social media groups on the Internet. Because I have no preconceived notions of the individuals, my interpretation of them comes directly from painting, which allows for much adventure in my creative process. Through painting, I am able to informally survey members of my community to better understand the psychology of race, and the varying viewpoints my sitters have on ideas of home, immigration, prejudice, identity, family, longing, love and loss.


As an American immigrant myself, my practice also allows me to further navigate my own identity as a painter who sees the world from both the lens of an ethnic majority in Asia, yet that of a minority in America. As I continue to work on this series, I continue to ask myself what it means to be an Asian female living in America: to think about assimilation and fitting into a society that still thinks of Asians under particular stereotypes. My portraits of Asian Americans allow me to continue to search for these answers – through the lens of the collective, and that of the self, which always inevitably appears through the mirror that is painting.

Home Cooking curated by John Yau 
October 23 - December 5, 2021