A close-up image of calligraphy and sculpted monotype print in a museum.
A site-specific installation titled Practice Makes Perfect by Taiko Chandler. The piece includes Tyvek monotype and calligraphy by the artist’s mother. Photo courtesy of the Littleton Museum.

In traditional printmaking, an artist creates a design on wood, metal, stone or another material and transfers it onto a different surface, usually paper or fabric.

Denver-based Japanese artist Taiko Chandler lets her intuition, memories and emotion drive her printmaking practice, which allows her to use the medium in new and innovative ways.

A solo exhibition by Chandler titled, Thoughtful Intuition, is on display at the Littleton Museum, showcasing monoprints, paintings, three-dimensional artwork and installations created through Chandler’s original processes.

“My process is very organic … also instinctive,” Chandler said. “(The) most important thing is just to be true to myself.”

Chandler’s unique process

After having traditional printmaking work on display at the museum recently, Curator of Patron Engagement Moira Casey said Chandler’s unique use of the medium is a great way to show visitors the vast creativity that can exist within one type of art.

“Taiko’s work is so unique because of the material she uses,” said Moira Casey, curator of patron engagement at the museum. “She’s just very courageous with experimenting with different materials.”

In addition to printing onto paper, Chandler uses Tyvek – a brand of synthetic, high-density, spunbound polyethylene fibers most commonly used under a building’s exterior siding to protect the structure from moisture.

“The big installation piece in this exhibit is actually a print on Tyvek and then she cuts out some of the pieces,” Casey said. “Then, she actually folds it up and manipulates it and pins it to the wall so it really becomes a 3D, almost sculptural piece – (it) just doesn’t even look like a print.”

The result feels symbolic of the way people might experience some of their most deep-rooted memories, Casey wrote in a press release.

“Instead of having an exact visual picture or a structured outline of the experience, we recall the curve of sentiments felt in that space,” she wrote. “We sense the wispy dappling of a beautiful light, or the dense pull of a heavy sense of loss or sorrow. Chandler recreates the feeling of memory in a way that is both tangible and intangible simultaneously.”

Memories and emotion

Chandler said the main installation of the exhibit was inspired by a recent visit to Japan to visit her mother, who was sick. The colors represent the intensity of her emotions during that time and she incorporated artifacts of her mother’s calligraphy practice in the installation.

Her work usually begins abstract, but sometimes it grows to carry a larger message as she spends more time with the piece, she said.

“Sometimes memory comes up, or some emotion comes up, or some idea or thoughts come up,” she said.

Casey said this approach to Chandler’s artwork stands out to her.

“It’s sort of this balance of having a gut intuition about what she wants to do and how to make a piece feel balanced and beautiful, and also just sort of putting her energy into it and her emotion from what she’s experiencing at that time,” Casey said.

Casey said she hopes the exhibit shows visitors a new purpose of art.

“I really want people to understand that art can be a medium for emotional exploration and sort of working through visceral feelings and kind of responding to the environment and events that are occurring, for both personal and communal events,” she said.

Since visitors will not have lived through the same experiences and emotions as Chandler, she said she hopes her work makes people pause to wonder and be curious.

And with the abstract shapes and colors, she hopes it might even resonate with their personal memories, emotions or experiences in some way, too.

Chandler’s exhibit will be on display until Jan. 7.

The gallery is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free.

The museum will also host a printmaking workshop on Nov. 15, which guests can register for at https://www.museum.littletonco.gov/Events-Programs/Events/Wonder-Wednesday-Playing-with-Prints.

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