Diem Chauís Carved Crayons
In our September/October 2008 issue, we feature Diem Chau’s embroidered china. Chau embroiders history into silk organza stretched across the rims of dinnerware in the form of portraits and vignettes. Here we share another of the artist’s series where she uses simple materials and imagery to illustrate very personal narratives.
Chau’s carved crayons are a result of her research into depression-era folk art—a time when people had to make do with whatever they had at hand. She admired how nothing was wasted and creativity was able to flourish within limits. Hoping to find inexpensive art supplies to work with in her own studio, Chau experimented with a variety of materials until she discovered crayons. She sees crayons as very powerful objects due to their common role in many people’s lives and their association with childhood. When carved they are beautiful, colorful, and lustrous. They are happy and cheerful but also incredibly fragile, and once broken can never be mended. These characteristics only add to the stories that her carvings tell.
Boy in Blue (detail), 2007, carved crayon on wooden base; 3 3/4" x 2 1/2" x 1 1/2". Photo by the artist.
Yellow Girl, 2006; carved crayon on wooden base; 3 1/2" x 2 1/2" x 2 1/2". Photo by the artist.
Girl and Boy, 2007; carved crayons on wooden base; 3 3/4" x 2 1/2" x 2 1/2". Photo by the artist.
Crayons Installation, 2006; carved crayons on wooden base. Photo courtesy of Howard House Gallery, Seattle.