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

Related Media

Large Print Labels

Access all exhibition text in large print format for ease of reading as you explore the exhibition.
A beige and orange rectangular box sits with front flap open outward. A cutout window on the front side reveals a small landscape scene made of plastic model trees, rocks, and water.

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.
View of the museum from outside showing the Neoclassical building from one corner. The building is a tan-colored stone with an arched doorway, long vertical windows, and detailed molding around the roof.
Julie Chen, Octopus (detail), 1992; NMWA, Purchased with grant funds provided by the United States Department of Education; © Julie Chen; Photo by Cameron Robinson