Social Media

Chaco Terada: Gallery Musings

photo-eye Gallery Chaco Terada: Gallery Musings photo-eye Gallery photo-eye Gallery's staff is pleased to share thoughs on one of their favorite images by Chaco Terada.

Since the 6th century, calligraphy has been a revered art form in Japan, following its introduction by Chinese masters. Today, it reflects the influence of Japanese Zen Buddist philosophy, where artists clear their minds to allow each character to arise spontaneously, committing it to paper in fluid motions. Yhohei Teradam, an esteemed calligraphy teacher at the University of Toyama, began teaching his daughter Chaco the art when she was only four years old. In her early twenties, Chaco would bring her passion for calligraphy to the United States and combine it with a new love: photography.

Chaco Terada has always been captivated by the way the lines of folded calligraphy paper showed through when held up to the light. Inspired by a poetry book that merged text and images, she developed a process that combines Sumi ink calligraphic mark-making with black-and-white photographic images printed on sheer silk, producing unique vignettes. Her subjects include landscapes, portraits, flowers and other imagery that is shrouded and obscured, their details blurred by layers of silk. Each layer of silk is then stretched between 8-ply matboards, like a canvas so that each semi-transparent layer of silk interacts with each other. The calligraphy is often painted on multiple layers, giving the impression of free-floating thoughts in the atmosphere. The spaced layers add depth to the images, and the silk adds an ethereal, atmospheric quality to the photos. 

Terada's brushstrokes derive from characters with multiple interpretations, creating impressionistic takes on mood and feeling. She says, "My calligraphy is influenced by life experiences. When I create a brushstroke, I think of the motion of water in a stream or the movement of a breeze. My lines do not create a word in the traditional sense; they interpret the meaning or mood that I feel the word represents."

>> To learn more about represented artist Chaco Terada, click here <<

>> To view more of Chaco Terada's work, click here <<

Gallery Director Anne Kelly and Gallery Assistant Jovi Esquivel share their thoughts on their favorite piece. To fully appreciate Terada's work and the interplay between the layers of silk, they should be experienced in person.

As the gallery director at photo-eye, I have the opportunity to form a relationship with the artists we represent, which includes hearing stories that are typically not included in general artist statements. These stories help provide a more complete comprehension of an artist's work, so I like to share them alongside experiences whenever possible.

Chaco Terada's relationship with photo-eye dates back about 15 years. Over this period I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Chaco, watching her career blossom and her art-making process evolve.

Chaco began producing art at age four when she began her studies in the ancient art of calligraphy. In her twenties, her calligraphy skills presented the opportunity to travel. Chaco eventually decided to settle in the United States, where she developed a passion for photography, which she began incorporating into her brushwork. In this new process, she moved away from traditional characters, which can be literally interpreted, into a new free-form version of calligraphy that she considers meditative mark-making. These marks benefit from a mastery of the ancient art of calligraphy but are not bound by traditional rules.

I would like to highlight Little Fox, for I see Chaco in all of her images but particularly this one. I perceive Little Fox, as a portrait of the artist, but not in the literal sense. Foxes, known as kitsune, often appear in Japanese folklore and are believed to have paranormal abilities such as shapeshifting. Chaco possesses many positive characteristics associated with foxes. Chaco is cunning, playful and resilient. 

This piece was made in 2020 when most of us were in quarantine. During this time Chaco revisited images from the past, looking for new inspiration. In this process, she came across a photograph that she had made of an Oragomi fox that was photographed on a trip to Japan the year prior and decided to work with that. The final image depicts the origami fox framed by silhouetted foliage. The origami fox appears to be looking out a window and dreaming of returning to the forest to play. 

Because Chaso's images are composed by stacking multiple layers of semi-opaque silk, the individual elements become one, they are capable of representing not just one moment in time but multiple places within the same frame. Her past, present and future are illustrated in a single image.

—Anne Kelly

Chaco Terada, Sounds of Silhouette, Sumi & Pigment Ink on Silk, 10 x 7½ Image, Unique Object, $1800

I feel a profound connection to the wind, which beckons me to dream and awakens all of my senses. Living in New Mexico, I cannot escape the dramatic interplay of light and sound shaped by the forceful will of the wind as it moves through the tall Cottonwood trees. The artwork titled Sounds of Silhouette amplifies this connection for me. The work appears to be a vignette of leaves and branches that have been printed on multiple layers of silk, creating a sense of depth and varying densities that mirror the way light moves through trees. Against this backdrop of light and shadow, Chaco's hand emerges with iridescent calligraphic strokes, capturing the essence of wind whispering through leaves.

Chaco's process of combining calligraphy with photography on silk produces an otherworldly quality that draws me into the artwork and makes me feel connected to the natural world. 

—Jovi Esquivel

If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by during gallery hours or schedule a Virtual Visit here.

*      *      *

Print costs are current up to the time of posting and are subject to change.

For more information, and to reserve one of these unique, extraordinary new works,
please contact photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly 

1300 Rufina Circle, Unit A3, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Tuesday– Saturday, from 10am– 5:30pm

You may also call us at (505) 988- 5152 x202