Mark Chu
Share |

 
 
Q&A 
 

Mark Chu

Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Visual Artist/Writer
 
Origin: Melbourne
Currently based: New York City
 
 

As an adolescent, Mark Chu performed as a solo pianist with the Melbourne and Western Australia Symphony Orchestras. During undergraduate studies, Chu majored in Criminology at The University of Melbourne, with one semester at Sciences Po, Paris, where he was invigorated by the cultural intensity of the French capital. In 2012, Chu was involved in his first group art, as well as taking a summer graduate program at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. 2013 saw Chu’s debut solo art exhibition SKIN, showcasing oil paintings as well as detailed close-up photographs of his own dandruff, calluses, and earwax. In April 2014, Chu exhibited in Chelsea, New York City, represented by Onishi Gallery, and was covered in the New York Times.

Chu has been published as a short fiction, music and food writer. Chu is currently a fiction Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) candidate at Columbia University, working on his first novel. He is also currently compiling a short-run watercolor publication.
 
 

Who are you as an artist?
I am a writer and visual artist based in Manhattan. Currently I am a candidate for my Masters in Fine Arts, studying fiction writing at Columbia. The program educates me through both craft and literature-based approach, and refines my personal desire to engage in radical literary forms and concepts, allowing me a great platform to work on my first novel. In visual arts I have been primarily focused on oil painting, composing scenes with many contrasting faces to evoke a complex and multiplicitous emotional reaction from viewers.
 
What prompted you to come to the US?
MFAs in fiction don't exist in Australia, and I believe strongly in the workshop format that is its lynchpin. New York is a city with such high stimulation, as well as exposure to disperate human conditions.
 
What did your course/project involve?
My MFA is what one might expect: attending classes, reading and discussing literature as well as peer work, and writing. In art I have been constantly refining my practise, and was involved in an art fair and group exhibition. 
 
What were the highlights of your experience?
Being taught by top-level writing professors, the aesthetics of all the city's inhabitants from the homeless to the super-wealthy, the little jokes that strangers make to each other on the street. Finding representation from a commercial gallery, being included in the New York Times. 
 
Where did you find inspiration? 
The city's diligence and lack of concern for things that don't matter, and its magnitude. 
 
What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
I came up with a handful of formatting radicalisms in my writing which I thought were pretty cool, for example: using a slash (/) as punctuation to denote a simultaneity between what comes before and after, using blank space between clauses to denote hesitation or draw caution to what follows.
 
What are you currently working on?
My first novel, and a short-run book of watercolor works.
 
What is your vision for the future?
Complete my fiction MFA, deepen the focus of my subject matter in my visual art.

What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
Think competitively about literature, whether it's regarding journals or agencies, or just producing the work. Whether it's in chasing loftiness, big advances, or trends, awareness of the playing field is important. With commercial art galleries, if you pay a management fee don't expect to make it back.
  
Artwork: Sisters I (2014) oil on canvas by Mark Chu
 
[Interview: 23 May 2014]
 
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal