Derek Chan and fellow artist and friend Paula Wilson pose for a photograph during Chan’s exhibit at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Friday evening. (Mark Wilson Photo)
“Causation” opened Friday evening at the Roswell Museum and Art Center with a lecture by exhibition creator and Roswell-Artist-in-Residence fellow Derek Chan and a preview of the show.
The exhibition focuses on man’s imbalance with nature and the ultimate rebalancing that has occurred in times past.
Residency Director Stephen Fleming described Chan’s art as hard to categorize, which he said is a good thing.
“I think kind of not knowing what it’s about is part of the interest in it,” he said.
Chan is the last of the 47th cohort of residents to display his art at the RMAC. The 48th cohort is now just beginning its time in Roswell.
“Causation” was originally slotted to go on display in September with an official opening in October. The show was delayed by a leak in the roof of the museum’s Marshall and Winston Gallery, where the exhibition is installed.
Chan, who grew up in San Francisco, Calif., spoke during his lecture about his upbringing and his development as an artist.
He said he and his cousins comprise the first generation of their family raised in America. Chan’s family immigrated from Hong Kong.
He said that being first generation Americans made it “more natural and possible” for him and his cousins to “have creative paths” in life.
One of his cousins is an illustrator and another has worked as a designer for Mattel Inc., according to Chan.
The artist attended University of California, Los Angeles for undergraduate studies, where he majored in Asian-American Studies and Studio Art. He went on to pursue a Master’s of Fine Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has since adopted Chicago as a home base.
An interest in the histories and cultures of indigenous cultures has played a starring role in Chan’s work. Past exhibitions have centered on the traditions and narratives of Tibetan Buddhism and Hopi and Navajo history.
Much of Chan’s work conveys spiritual themes. During the lecture, an audience member asked Chan about his spiritual influences.
Chan responded that he attended Catholic school and his father is a Buddhist. He said that he ultimately finds explaining his spirituality difficult.
“I think I’m spiritual, that’s all,” he said.
Attendees of the preview said they were surprised and impressed by the show.
Roswell resident Sara Mitchell commented that she is rarely drawn to “sharp lines,” which she observed in “Causation,” yet “there’s something about it that is very compelling.”
She said she was particularly affected by the intricacy of Chan’s art. She explained that she visited the artist once at his studio, where he gave her a scrap paper marbled with acrylic paint that he was “getting rid of.”
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
“Causation” will be on display until Feb. 23.