Qualia’s inaugural show in a new gallery space, The Edge of Days is a dual exhibition of mixed media artworks that reimagine the possibilities of photography.
October 27, 2023 (Palo Alto, CA) – Qualia Contemporary Art is pleased to present The Edge of Days, a dual exhibition of powerful mixed media works by artists Chu Chu and Gail Skudera, both of whom reimagine and recontextualize the medium of photography to explore themes of memory, history, and elements of their own lives. Chu combines natural imagery with calligraphic ink painting to create abstract, multimedia works that depict objects and places that have personal significance to the artist. Skudera’s unique process involves deconstructing photographs and then manually weaving them back together with fibers on the loom, creating beautifully textured, tactile patterns, with a collage effect. The Edge of Days is Qualia’s inaugural exhibition at the former Pace Gallery space at 229 Hamilton Ave in Palo Alto, just three short blocks from its previous location on University Ave. The exhibition will be open to the public from November 7 – December 12, 2023, with an opening celebration hosted on November 11th from 4:30-6:30 PM PST.
Chu takes an unconventional and multi-layered approach to her photographic imagery; some works are photographed and reprocessed multiple times within a single work, creating a recursive practice to the point of nullifying or exceeding the category of “photography.” The images are altered with ink, calligraphy, acrylics, pencil, colored pencils, and other mediums. Featured in this exhibition are 23 of Chu’s works created over the last fifteen years, which span a range of styles and exemplify her fascination with the natural world and the intersection between personal and collective histories.
Included in the show are works from Chu’s Whisper of Trees series, in which she collected tree branches from the botanical gardens near her home, photographed them in large format film, and then wrote ancient Chinese poems in the shadow of the branches. These small, subtle words and brushstrokes reference Chinese culture as well as the changing of the seasons. The series 72 Pentad also reflects the passage of time and seasonal change, through an ancient Chinese division of the year, with every five days representing a season. Arranged in 72 diptychs, each pairing juxtaposes a photograph, taken between 2007 and 2018, and an ink painting created by the artist in response to it.
Among her newest pieces are City-Crystal and City-Bergamot, with calligraphy inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The work is based on images Chu took throughout the U.S. in July 2023, post-pandemic, with references to Lake Tahoe, Palo Alto, and New York. Chu’s artistic endeavors deeply resonate with her personal and cultural experiences, educational background, and immediate environment. For Chu, the act of writing calligraphy is akin to the developing process in photography. Each character emerges, culminating in a holistic picture. Once penned, the calligraphy remains immutable, retaining its essence without the need for retouches, unlike paintings that can be altered, smudged, or refined.
Skudera mines photographs from her family’s archive and found, historical images, which gives them a sense of familiarity while also leaving room for the unknown, and allowing for new imagery and ideas to develop organically throughout the process. By using old images, the artist is able to reveal the drama of the moment and give new life to images that are often otherwise tucked away or forgotten. “The subjects that I choose to work with are often women – and I am interested in telling their stories,” she says. For example, Toe Dancer incorporates black and white photographs of her mother when she was young and engaged to her father. Skudera also occasionally samples from images of well-known people; Boutineer and Georgia O’Keefe, Shared Secrets, for instance, are a pair that draw from Ansel Adams’ photograph of Orville Cox and Georgia O’Keefe.
On a tactile level, the work is infused with materials and processes that have history and relevance to Skudera’s daily life and to women’s work in general, such as weaving and sewing, colored threads, hand-dyed and hand-spun mohair, remnants from salvaged clothing and fabric, buttons, and beads, and metal hardware. She also paints the surface of many of her works with textile patterns and alternating gloss and matte media, giving them greater texture and depth. In her newest work, she uses an analog, composite technique of photographing and rephotographing to “weave” her source imagery with time and light.
The Edge of Days will also mark the first time all six pieces from Skudera’s 2022 Above and Below series will be shown together. In these works, the artist employs photographic transparencies to create a range of high-contrast, abstract compositions, all borne from a single found image. From this one image, a multiplicity of new images and stories emerge about connection, perspective, and endurance over time. The photographic transparencies are pieced together by hand, highlighting different frames, with colors added via light exposure.
Both artists engage implicitly and explicitly with the passage of time. Chu’s hybrid practice captures ephemeral moments through photography, crystallizing the transient dance of light and shade; simultaneously, her calligraphy unfurls over time, with each stroke revealing a character and solidifying an idea in ink, irreversibly. With a similarly atemporal approach, Skudera honors and elevates her subjects by recontextualizing and reimagining the archive. Her work acts as an homage to history, craft, lineage, and a powerful reminder that art can be woven from anything. In The Edge of Days, Chu and Skudera extend the possibilities of their materials and processes in unconventional ways, crossing photography into weaving, and calligraphy into imagery. Through their respective practices, and in the synergies that arise from the dual curation of their work, the artists show the deeply nuanced, dynamic, and layered nature of memory and expand our understanding of art, history, and photography.
About Chu Chu
Chu Chu (b. 1975 in Hangzhou, China) received her Bachelor of Arts in Oil Painting in 2000 from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China, where she also received her MFA in New Media in 2007, and obtained her PhD in Calligraphy in 2015 under the tutelage of Wang Dongling. She is currently the Vice Secretary of Lanting Calligraphy Society and the Vice President of Zhejiang Female Calligraphers Association in Hangzhou, China. She currently lives and works in Hangzhou, China.
Chu has exhibited widely nationally and internationally including exhibitions in China and abroad at Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, Shanghai; Pudong Library, Shanghai; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Gongwang Art Museum, Hangzhou; Hangzhou Peace International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hangzhou; Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou; Photography Museum of Lishui, Lishui; Nangang Exhibition Center, Taipei, Taiwan; Louvre Museum, Paris, France; The Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Hannover Exhibition Centre, Hanover, Germany; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, TX; Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA; among many others. She exhibited in the Kunming Art Biennale at Yunnan Art Museum, Kunming, China in 2023 and has participated in several art fairs including Art Basel Hong Kong in 2019 and 2017; PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai at Shanghai Exhibition Centre in 2018; FOTO Fever Paris at Grand Palais, Paris, France in 2014; Tokyo Photo 2012 at Tokyo Midtown Hall, Tokyo, Japan; and Photo L.A. in Los Angeles, CA in 2011.
Her works are in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; The Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Stavanger Art Museum, Stavanger, Norway; Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China; and more.
About Gail Skudera
Gail Skudera (b. in Hackensack, NJ) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Weaving and Textile Printing in 1975 and her Master of Fine Arts in Fiber in 1981 from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. She is a recipient of the Visual Artist Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Decentralization Art Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Skudera is a member of The National Association of Women Artists in New York and Massachusetts.
Skudera has exhibited widely nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO; Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY; Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany, NY; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; The New York Public Library, New York, NY; Maine Museum of Photographic Arts, Portland, ME; Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, ME; The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA; Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA; Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media, Pittsburgh, PA; Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT; Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA; Inselgalerie, Berlin, Germany; Spiral Hall, Tokyo, Japan; among many others. She exhibited in the 2009 5th International Biennial of Textile Art in Palais de Glace, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Textiel Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands in 2010; and the 2016 Biennial at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, ME. Skudera has an upcoming exhibition at Galleri Heike Arndt DK in Kettinge, Germany.
Her works are in the permanent collections of the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts, Portland, ME; Judy Glickman Lauder Collection, Portland, ME; Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA; Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL; NIU Art Museum, DeKalb, IL; Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA; Lafayette College Art Galleries, Easton, PA; SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam, NY; and more.
About Qualia Contemporary Art
Located in downtown Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, Qualia Contemporary Art is dedicated to showcasing outstanding established and emerging artists working in a variety of media. The gallery is committed to building lasting relationships with artists, collectors, curators, and scholars nationally and internationally, and providing a vital platform for dialogues on contemporary art and culture in the Bay Area and beyond.
229 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Lainya Magaña, A&O PR
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