Chloe Faith Urban is a visual artist that is inspired by movement. Based in San Francisco Chloe produces works made largely with charcoal, graphite, watercolor and free movement.
MP: Tell me about your first attempts at being creative.
CU: I was painting and drawing before I could even talk. I have photos of me painting these colorful paintings when I was like 1 1/2 or so. The photos are hilarious because in some I am painting on the paper, and some I am painting on the table next to the paper, but my parents didn’t seem to care. I recently found these paintings in our basement and I was blown away! I swear they are some of my most favorite works! They are really sophisticated compositions. I feel like I was a better painter then than I am now. I guess maybe because I didn’t get in my own way: it was just raw creation.
MP: What are your artistic goals?
CU: My future goal is to have shows all over the world! My more short term goal is to start exploring and expanding the performance side of my work. I have plans to join up with a few more dancers and create pieces that wrap around entire rooms, even move outside onto the streets. I think that collaboration will be extremely helpful for me as an artist, not only because it will help me see things from a different perspective, but also because it will introduce marks that I could never make myself. No two people move the same way.
MP: I like the idea of your installation – Cellular Memory, and the way it isn’t simply wall art but something interactive. How was the idea conceived?
CU: Well, it really evolved over four months. There were two things that started this project: my urge to give and my need to recycle. It all began because I was absolutely sick of buying new paper and creating all of this work that was just sitting in portfolios all over my studio, with no way to share it. So I decided that instead of buying new paper, I would start with a bunch of old work, rip it down to 3.5″x3.5″ squares and work back into them, creating new work out of the old pieces. As the project evolved, It became clear to me that I would give the squares away. At first I wanted people to choose one piece off the wall, send it to someone in the mail, and then burn them all on the same day in some sort of a prayer. That seemed way too complicated, so instead I gave a square to everyone who came to the installation. I then had to figure out how I was going to give meaning to all the empty space that would be left when people took the pieces off the wall. That’s when I had the idea of asking my mother to write a poem inspired by the squares, which could be revealed word by word as the pieces were taken away. It all just came together after that.
MP: Your drawings seem to have a great deal of texture. What materials are you using and are you drawn to the effect of showing depth?
CU: I use mostly powdered charcoal and graphite for dancing, matte medium to hold it on the paper, and ink and pastels for color. I am interested in the combination of depth and movement and what they create when they coexist in a piece. A lot of my drawings remind me of celestial landscapes that show movement through an exciting and unknown space.
MP: You are a performance artist as well. Would you consider yourself a storyteller? (I’d guess that you create stories/situations through the act of making the image.)
CU: I don’t consider myself a storyteller at this point, but I guess in a way I am telling the story of my work through the movement, which eventually becomes an image. The performances are about allowing the viewer to witness my process of creation, because I think that the art itself is more in the process than it is in the final product. Each time I dance a piece alive, It connects me to my essence in a way that nothing else in my life can. For a few moments I deeply experience the magic of creation. Ironically, this magic evades us in our daily lives, even though it’s a central aspect of being human.
MP: It seems you dance without music. Don’t they go hand-in-hand?
CU: Not for everyone. I have used music in a few circumstances, but I mostly work in silence. I guess I am moving to my own inner beat. I have thought of creating pieces in collaboration with musicians; it would be interesting to see how live music might influence my danced work.
MP: According to your ArtSlant profile you live in San Francisco but you were born in Maine. Where were you raised and does the place have an effect on your creativity?
CU: I grew up in a house my parents built from the trees on our land down a long driveway in downeast Maine. Our house is two miles from Penobscot Bay. I can’t begin to describe how incredible it was to grow up in those woods, or exactly how much my home has influenced my creativity; all I can say is…a lot! Being in nature, especially by the ocean, enlivens my spirit more than anything else in the world. The beauty, smells, and sounds of our woods drive me to create. I even have a drawing on my website called “Dance for Home” which I did after returning from an invigorating trip to Maine. That is where I am most happy.
MP: How does your family fit into that space – influencing your work?
CU: My family has always been supportive. They are the most important inspiration in my life, never hesitating to encourage me, especially when I decided to study art in college. I have been influenced by both my parents’ creativity in different ways. My father is an extremely talented woodworker who continues to blow me away with his innovative and exciting house designs and his absolute mastery of the craft. I grew up in a home that reflected this in every detail. He has a way of seeing the larger picture, while recognizing the importance of each of the smaller elements involved. I’ve found that same notion arise in many of my pieces, especially the in 810 Squares project. My mother has an intuitive spirit that has inspired me at every step along my creative path. As I mentioned above, I have collaborated with her on a few projects, where she used my work as a prompt for writing poetry. She was also the one who first introduced me to dance. She was part of a contact improv company and would bring me along to some of the weekly rehearsals. I was only about 4 or 5 at the time, but I can still remember dancing with that group, being lifted and carried around the room. That is where I fell in love with movement. In fact, my whole family loves dancing! When the four of us get together, we can dance up a storm! Those are some of my favorite times. As for my brother, he grounds me when I need it the most, reminding me that it is possible to live a life full of passion and creativity without it being a constant struggle. His life is a testament to that.
MP: Where can we find your work?
CU: My website: http://www.chloeurban.com, my blog: chloefaithurban.blogspot.com (which has works in progress, etc), my gallery on Artslant: http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/172698-chloe-urban, and on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/ChloeFaithUrban
Sausalito Open Studio event out and put in….
Duo Show at the Congregational Church, Blue Hill, ME – January 8-27, 2012
Group show at Turtle Gallery, Deer Isle, ME – Summer 2012
K Zhang Gallery (online) http://www.kzhanggallery.com – February 1-14, 2012