Diem Chau and Wendy Given
March 21st - April 18th, 2009
Fifth Floor Gallery is pleased to present the work of two artists based in the Pacific Northwest, Diem Chau and Wendy Given. The show entitled, Short Stories, will feature the photographic series, A. hypogaea albus (peanut elves) by Wendy Given and tiny human caricatures carved from crayons and pencils as well as embroidered ceramics by Diem Chau. Both artists' work is inspired by myths and oral traditions passed on generationally.
A Vietnam native, Diem Chau and her family came to America as refugees in 1986. Having learned her own family's history through oral traditions she relates these and other narratives via the use of common objects as a medium to create delicate vignettes of fleeting memory, gesture and form. The resulting works combine an egalitarian sensibility with minimalist restraint as they translate and reveal oral history through a physical means. These familiar but transformed objects are already imbued with meaning to the viewer which helps the work achieve its goal of highlighting the value of storytelling and myths through their ability to connect us to each other via cultural and humanistic similarities.
As a child, Wendy Given was taught a game by her mother and grandparents that involved searching for elves inside of raw peanuts. Traditionally passed through several generations of Wendy's maternal family in the Netherlands, it is a pastime of discovery, patience, and imagination. Given's photos, which enlarge the peanut elves to approximately thirty times their actual size, reveal a tiny world hidden in plain sight. The outcome of the project initiates the viewer into a renewed awareness and piqued interest in discovering, or rediscovering, the typically unseen realm of our existence.