Urgent Museum Notice

Julie Chen: True to Life

An open artist’s book resembling two open books connected end to end. The four inner cover panels feature small sculpted brown shapes, small indented shapes, and a rocky-looking panel. The two groups of pages feature different patterns that resemble rock climbing walls.
Oct 12, 2020 to Jun 30, 2021

The internationally recognized artist and teacher Julie Chen creates elaborate books that call for readers to do more than simply turn pages to uncover her poetic reflections. Readers may be called upon to peer through a tunnel created by accordioned pages or flip the slats of a Venetian blind-like structure in order to read the text. Julie Chen: True to Life will exhibit more than a dozen captivating works from throughout the Californian’s 33-year career. Chen creates small sculptures of handmade papers and other materials, marrying text and complex structures to convey her contemplations on the passage of time, forms of grief, the human quest for discovery, and other deeply personal concerns. 

A box sits open revealing 16 cubes arranged in a square to show an orange and black photograph of tree branches. Inside the box lid is the same photograph in black and white, and the words

Julie Chen, Family Tree, 2013; Paper and laser-engraved wood, 9 ¼ in. x 8 ⅞ in. x 2 ½ in. overall; Courtesy of Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University; © Julie Chen

Mar 04, 2021

Please purchase timed tickets for the museum before visiting the exhibition.

Exhibition Hours

Monday to Friday
10 am to 4 pm

Exhibition Location

Library & Research Center

Related Blog Post

Julie Chen creates elaborate books that ask readers to do more than simply turn pages. NMWA's new exhibition presents more than a dozen captivating works from the artist's 33-year career.
A close up photograph of an artist's book. Each layer of blue paper has an organic, irregular shape cut out of the middle so the layers form a tunnel. A line of text is printed in small type on each page, receding into the tunnel like an underwater cavern.
Julie Chen, Octopus (detail), 1992; NMWA, Purchased with grant funds provided by the United States Department of Education; © Julie Chen; Photo by Cameron Robinson