A hipster is not simply a skinny musician in tight pants and Chuck Taylors with a PBR in one hand and a cigarette in the other. A young Jewish professional is not always a well-dressed, curly-haired, no-nonsense woman. And an artist is not always a tormented waif with a crazy haircut and a half sleeve tattoo. I don’t fully fit into any of these subcultures, but they are all a part of me.
In searching for a theme for this exhibit, I realized that my artwork is equally diverse. I have paintings here about faith, pattern, color, love, fire, balance. Their juxtaposition may seem confusing in one exhibit, but they are all genuine expressions of what my art is about at this point in time. These paintings represent the subcultures within my artistic endeavors.
My quilt paintings begin as separate paintings of layered patterns and are then cut up and sewn together, incorporating stitching into the patterns. They are about finding a balance amid the complexity of colors, shapes, patterns and emotions. They merge the ideas of craft and art, quilting and painting.
The figure in this painting has found a balance between the city and nature, between remembering those who came before and the future she will create with her own hands.
The figure in this painting is overwhelmed with anxiety and starts burning from the inside out. But there is hope—within the figure is the possibility of calm, represented by the white flower emerging from its own heart.
When Mandi and I decided to have our wedding, we searched for the perfect Ketubah online, but couldn’t find it. We decided that I should make one instead, so I took a calligraphy class and started practicing my Hebrew lettering. I stitched together the different papers from our invitations to symbolize the stitching together of our lives and included a tree as a symbol of balancing stability with continuous change and growth.
"Faith is by definition irrational. It is, in fact, a little like fire." Fire has endless symbolic potential that I’ve been exploring for years. Fire can be comfort, heat, passion, terror, destruction, memorial, healing, energy, beauty, death. It constantly changes forms and evolves, as we all do over time.
Faith can evolve too. Not just religious faith, but in-general faith. Faith in whatever you have faith in—that things will work out, that the sun will rise, that you can’t predict the future, that you’re a good person, whatever your personal faith is about.
Faith has an untouchable quality kind of like a flame. You can’t grab it but you can feel its heat. It can warm you from the inside out. It can surprise you and leap out when you least expect it.
"Faith is the bird that sees the light when the dawn is still dark" –Tagore. This quote inspired me to visualize faith in another way, as a kind of oasis of light.
My art is inspired by other artists (the big four being Ghada Amer, Marc Chagall, Yayoi Kusama, and Agnes Martin), big abstract ideas like faith, and the small details that bring beauty into our everyday lives like the path of a thread or the pattern of tiles on the floor. I am intrigued with the challenge of finding balance in life and the idea that no one person or one thing can be categorized by a listing of subcultures.
Chai also creates commissioned work and custom Ketubot, working with each individual or couple to create a meaningful work of art.
If you or someone you know would like to be an Oy!Chicago featured artist, let us know!