Chloe Chiasson uses her art to tell evocative stories to highlight queer life and visibility
What does it mean to make work that goes against the brackets, binaries and categories laid out by society? For Chloe Chiasson, an artist based in Brooklyn, her interests are in these middle spaces and her work highlights queer life and visibility.
Growing up in a small town in Texas, Chloe found a love of creativity and was accepted into the New York Academy of Art where she learnt the ropes of her newfound craft, developing a unique aesthetic forged from large-scale, mixed-media pieces that bellow with her personal view of the world. For Chloe, art is more than putting paint on canvas.
She tells us: "Inspired by the desire to rebel and confront this paradigm of sameness versus difference that has historically suppressed non-conforming identities and expressions, my work is a rejection of the usual exclusiveness of many things: femininity and masculinity, sexuality and freedoms of expression, being yourself, secular perhaps, open, in landscapes and spaces that historically demand that I, and other queer people like me, specifically cannot and should not exist."
Chloe's style is unique, not least for the moody colour palettes and Western influences, but also in the construction. Her process combines painting and carpentry in defiance of traditional distinctions between fine art and craft. She masterfully collages together images from different periods, finding an unexpected resonance within disparate moments.
Limbs of her subjects fall off the canvas as she extracts small parts of the legs and arms, alluding to the cut-and-paste process of collage that she entwines with her paint. It's like the subjects are jumping out at you, caught in a moment from everyday life (running, hanging out or smoking with a friend, for example).
These worlds and the subjects that live in them are perceived in relation to gender and lesbian sexuality, "crossing boundaries and creating a life based on replacing the socially given central image with images of my own choosing", she explains. She creates these settings through a mix of materials and techniques. "My process is heavily based on construction and deconstruction," she adds, "embracing my queerness by reactivating my identity as assemblages of dynamic, incomplete 'opposing' parts operating in various cultural contexts that partially produce and are produced by, my inhabitance and performance of them."
Androgynous figures climb out of the canvas and overlap with one another – denoting the layers behind her work and the multitude of meanings captured within. Chloe says that, by working this way, her art suggests the "crossing boundaries or exceeding acceptable 'extents' as they come into their own world – a world where mutability wouldn't be necessary for survival. A world where freedom stretches to take on more meaning than can be held on a bumper sticker. Not a world of being wedged between social constructs, but of hopeful, fluid possibility."
Chloe makes it clear that art can be influential – a tool to present a new point of view and go against the traditional normals of the world. With a host of new paintings under her belt, Chloe's evocative works can be viewed at New York's Albertz Benda gallery in her first solo show, exhibiting from now until 25 June 2022. Titled In Fast Hearts and Slow Towns, Chloe's series shines a light on radical love and acceptance, the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances, resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning that constitute queerness itself, and she does so with without a shred of forgiveness.